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There are closer to 5 degrees of separation.

Looks like it’s a smaller world after all. A November 2011 study by Facebook and the University of Milan, which mined data from the social media site’s 721 million active users, found that the number of intermediate links between two strangers—better known as degrees of separation—is, at 4.74, fewer than we thought. Psychologist Stanley Milgram popularized the six degrees theory in a 1967 study, which asked 296 volunteers from Boston and Nebraska to get a document to a stockbroker in Sharon, Massachusetts using only their acquaintances. Sixty-four letters ultimately reached their target in about six steps, and that number—thanks to the Internet—has been shrinking ever since. “When considering another person in the world, on average, a friend of your friend knows a friend of their friend,” reports the Facebook study. Guess we’re all that much closer to Kevin Bacon.

 

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