Six Degrees of Separation is a social theory stemming from an experiment in the 1960’s by Stanley Milgram, it most recently gained internet fame by the Oracle of Bacon, linking actor Kevin Bacon to anyone in Hollywood within six steps. Today, a new study from Facebook’s data center in Milan has revealed that the social networking giant has reduced this number to only four degrees of separation.
The joint study from Facebook and the Università degli Studi di Milano shows that the number of “hops” separating any two persons on Facebook is in fact smaller than six. According to the study, “99.6% of all pairs of users are connected by paths with 5 degrees (6 hops), 92% are connected by only four degrees (5 hops),” with the average “distance” between users getting smaller over time.
This is not only an interesting factoid about the potential of social media, it also shows that Zuckerberg’s long term plan to make the world a, “more open and connected” place is becoming more and more a reality. By making the world a more open and connected place, Zuckerberg is attempting to build one monopolising social layer, making friend, app requests and recommendations more relevant. By doing this Facebook also learns an enormous amount about you, your friends, your friends of friends and all of your social interactions.
By many this may be seen as a good thing, getting to know people with similar interests as yourself without the awkward meet and greet at a friends party, although the biggest winner in the expanding and ever changing social landscape is Facebook; by discovering more about you, your friends, your app choices and you social interactions, Facebook can serve you the most relevant ads, ever increasing the value of their maturing ad platform.