Facebook Study Says Only Four Degrees Separate Users

More than 40 years ago, a study suggested that any two people in the world were separated by an average of six degrees. Hence, the adage “six degrees of separation.” Today, however, that may no longer apply.

On Monday, scientists at the University of Milan and Facebook released a study that reportedly shows that the members of the social networking site are separated only by an average of 4.74 acquaintances. In an age when making “friends” with a stranger can be done with a single click of a button, Facebook said in its page that “a friend of your friend probably knows a friend of their friend” regardless of where they are located in the world. The same study revealed that the average distance between people shrinks to about 4.37 when the Facebook users are living in the United States.

The accuracy of the study, however, will largely depend on the definition of a “friend” in the Facebook universe, where one user can easily be “friends” with a complete stranger. According to Jon Kleinberg of Cornell University in a New York Times article, it is this relationship with people with whom we have weak links that make the world smaller. “We are close, in a sense, to people who don’t necessarily like us, sympathize with us or have anything in common with us,” he said. ” It’s the weak ties that make the world small.”