Facebook recently blogged about a study that was conducted using Facebook to test the small world experiments conducted by Stanley Milgram. Milgram’s work examined the average path length for social networks of people in the United States. The research was groundbreaking in that it suggested that human society is a small-world type network, characterized by short path lengths. The results of the experiments lead to the phrase “six degrees of separation” being coined, although by media, not the research himself!
The Facebook study used an algorithm that was developed by the Laboratory for Web Algorithms at the Università degli Studi di Milano. The results are pretty amazing:
- 99.6% of users can be connected by 5 degress of seperation.
- 92% of users can be connected by 4 degrees of seperation.
- The average number of ‘degrees of seperation’ for Facebook users in 2008 was 5.28 degrees. The 2011 average has dropped to 4.74 degrees of seperation.
- 50% of Facebook user have 100+ friends.
- There are 721 million active users on Facebook…that is roughly 10% of Earth’s population!
Now I can see how people get in trouble bitching about work or home life! Careful what you update your status with…it could come back to haunt you 5 people down the line! 😉