Six degrees of separation is down to 3.5, says Facebook

Facebook said that six degrees of separation is currently down to 3.57. While commenting on the research which was conducted among 1.59 billion active users, Facebook revealed that there are three-and-a-half degrees of separation instead of six degrees.

Connected to every other person on an average of three-and-a-half other people, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO is 3.17 degrees of separation from all Facebook users.

Revealing the figures, researchers at Facebook disclosed that the collective degrees of separation have shrunk over the past five years.

Previously in 2011, Facebook in association with Cornell University and the Università degli Studi di Milano computed the average figure among approximately 721 million people, which was at 3.74.

As of now, the total number of users active on Facebook has doubled, but they have grown interconnected. Hence, the total distance travelled by any two people in the world has shortened.

By making use of statistical techniques to precisely estimate distance based on de-identified and aggregated data, the Facebook research team has revealed that the entire process involved in the calculation of numbers across billions of people and friendship connections was challenging.

Running in loops of thousands with the addition of each 100 friends, the team had to filter down to arrive at the correct number of unique connections. Moreover, the team had to omit those connections who are not active on Facebook.

While many people create an account just for following other people and who doesn’t post information, it is tough for the team to drill down those connections.

Instead of exact calculations, Facebook had to depend on statistical algorithms to estimate distances with high accuracy. With an average distance of 4.57, people in the US are connected to each other by 3.46 degrees.

To recall, the ‘six degrees of separation’ theory was originally coined by the Hungarian playwright Frigyes Karinthy in 1929.