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Six degrees of separation 'shrunk' by Facebook.

Summary: Facebook has revealed that the world is smaller and friendlier than many people thought.

Facebook has revealed that the world is smaller and friendlier than many people thought.

In a joint study along with the University of Milan, the social network calculated the degrees of separation between users.

With over 700 million active users, around ten per cent of the world's population, researchers attempted to calculate an actual figure.

Publishing their findings online, Facebook concluded that any two people in the world are separated by around 4.74 connections.

The theory of Six Degrees of Separation was originally proposed by Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy and made popular by John Guare's play and subsquent films.

Testing the concept in the 1960s, psychologist Stanley Milgram found that the average number of connections to reach anyone in the world was 5.2.

Using "state-of-the-art algorithms" developed at the Laboratory for Web Algorithms at the University of Milan, Facebook said that the "scale and international reach" of the social network allowed them to put the study to the test - revealing the new lower figure.

The study's authors said is was easy to imagine the global connections between friends, especially when they moved to a new country - adding more friends in different locations.

Publishing their findings on a Facebook page, they wrote of the findings: "Thus, when considering even the most distant Facebook user in the Siberian tundra or the Peruvian rainforest, a friend of your friend probably knows a friend of their friend".

Facebook's data team added that when looking at residents in one country only, the figure was reduced to around three.

Independent Television News Limited 2011. All rights reserved.

Independent Television News Limited 2011. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Independent Television News Limited (ITN)
Date:Nov 29, 2011
Words:294
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