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Forget the six degrees of separation!

Remember the idea of Six degrees of separation the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away from any other person on Earth? Well forget it! Earlier this year Facebook examined all 721 million active Facebook users (more than 10% of the global population) with 69 billion friendships among them. And came up with a new calculation.

Cumulative degree distribution facebookThis graph shows the cumulative degree distribution of Facebook. The percentages of people that have a given their number of friends; 50% of the people on Facebook have more than 100 friends. And the average Facebook user has 190 friends.

With the help of the Università degli Studi di Milano they’ve found that 99.6% of all pairs of users are connected by paths with 5 degrees (6 hops), 92% are connected by only four degrees (5 hops). The average distance in 2008 was 5.28 hops but decreased with the grow of Facebook to 4.74 hops.

percentage of pairs at given distance hopsAnd when they limited the research to a single country the world became even smaller. We are clustered locally. We tend to have friends with almost the same age and 84% of all connections are between users in the same country. So most pairs of people in the same country are only separated by 3 degrees. In 2010 Sysomos did a similar study and found out that on twitter the average distance between two users is 4.67 steps.

It’s a small world!