Remember six degrees of separation? The theory that you, Kevin Bacon and every other human on Earth are just six connections away?
Well, forget it, Facebook has changed all that
The firm has analysed its over 1.5bn active users and discovered that in the age of social media, the real degree of separation between us is quite a bit smaller. No more than 3.57 degrees on average, to be exact, meaning you're only half as far away from Kevin Bacon as you think you are.
“The world is more closely connected than you might think,” write Facebook’s Sergey Edunov, Carlos Diuk, Ismail Onur Filiz, Smriti Bhagat and Moira Burke in a blog post explaining how they worked the new number out.
Using a statistical algorithm they calculated the degrees of separation in the network which has hundreds of billions of connections, something they described as a “monumental task”:
Imagine a person with 100 friends. If each of his friends also has 100 friends, then the number of friends-of-friends will be 10,000. If each of those friends-of-friends also has 100 friends then the number of friends-of-friends-of-friends will be 1,000,000.
The site released the new statistic to mark the 12th anniversary of its launch in 2004. It also allows you to work out your own personal degree of separation. Founder Mark Zuckerberg, for instance, has 3.17 degrees of separation. Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg is more well-connected, with just 2.92.
So whether it’s Christine Lagarde or Kevin Bacon you’re trying to get in touch with, remember, you don’t have to find many people to reach them.
How to find the right people, of course, is another matter entirely...