Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

The Distance From You to Almost Anyone Is 4.74 Facebook Friends

The average number of individuals that separate any two people on Facebook — what’s commonly referred to as “degrees of separation” — is 4.74, according to Facebook.

The social networking giant this week released research on 721 million active Facebook users and their 69 billion connections, done in collaboration with Università degli Studi di Milano.

Facebook said its network of users has only gotten more connected over time. Where in 2008 the distance from any one Facebook user was, on average, 5.28 hops, it’s now 4.74.

Plus, Facebook users are highly likely to friend people like themselves — that is, in their country and of their age. So if you take two people within a country, there’s likely to be only three degrees of separation between them.

Also interesting: Only half of Facebook users have more than 100 friends.

But some people have a lot of friends (Facebook’s artificial limit is 5,000), so the average is skewed upward to 190 friends each.

Facebook says these are the largest social networking studies ever released.

The New York Times has some good context for the research here.

Please see the disclosure about Facebook in my ethics statement.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik