Six Degrees of Separation? Facebook Finds a Smaller Number

Pedestrians who passed by One World Trade Center in 2015 are more closely linked than once thought, according to Facebook. The social media giant says its users in the United States are connected by an average of 3.46 people. Credit Michael Nagle for The New York Times

Excerpt from this article:

…According to Facebook, depending on how you want to do the counting, the true number, referring to intermediaries or to links, is either 3.57 or 4.57 degrees of separation…

The new statistic is as much a testament to the growing popularity of Facebook as it is to a steadily shrinking human social world. The calculation includes only connections between the network’s 1.59 billion users, ignoring the approximately 5.7 billion other humans who have yet to set up accounts. (In July, the United Nations estimated that the current world population to be 7.3 billion.)

If you are logged into Facebook, the blog post will tell you your average degree of separation “from everyone.” The number is an estimate derived from statistical algorithms and not, as it seems, an intrusive estimate of the reach of your friends and family. According to the post, Facebook users in the United States are connected by an average of 3.46 people.

It placed my personal degree of connections at 3.2, below average but nowhere close to the reach of Sheryl Sandberg, who, the post says, is separated from everyone by only 2.92 degrees.