Researchers from the University of Milan and Facebook using a cohort of 721 million Facebook users–more than one-tenth of the world’s population–found that the average number of acquaintances separating any two people in the world is now not six but 4.74. In the U. S., where more than half of people over 13 are on Facebook, the average number of links from one arbitrarily selected person to another was just 4.37.
What’s the Big Idea?
The research is an example of the increasing power of the emerging science of social networks, in which scientists crunch gigantic sets of Internet data in order to study the ways people interact. With with only a few jumps, people can now share ideas with the entire population of a nation and with just a few more reach much of the world’s population.