Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

You're now one degree closer to Kevin Bacon

Stock photo | Getty Images | iStockphoto/Stock photo | Getty Images | iStockphoto

Get ready to play the Kevin Bacon game.

The notion that one person can be connected to any other in just six steps, commonly known as six degrees of separation, has been around since social psychologist Stanley Milgram's " small world experiment" in the 1960s.

But a new study of Facebook users conducted by the company and the University of Milan has found that every one of the social network's 721 million active users can be linked to any other in just 4.74 steps. That's worldwide. When you look at a single country, the analysis found people are only separated by three degrees. And the world – the Facebook world – is getting smaller.

Story continues below advertisement

"We found that the degrees of separation between any two Facebook users is smaller than the commonly cited six degrees, and has been shrinking over the past three years as Facebook has grown," the Facebook Data Team said on Tuesday in a blog post.

The analysis found that 99.6 per cent of all pairs of users are connected by paths with five degrees. That means anyone on Facebook is just five degrees away from any other person on Earth who's a member of the site. When you look at just a single country, users are separated by only three degrees.

And, as the blog post noted, "As Facebook has grown over the years, representing an even larger fraction of the global population, it has become steadily more connected. The average distance in 2008 was 5.28 hops, while it is now 4.74."

If you're thinking, 'Wait, I'm on Facebook and I don't feel very connected to strangers on the other side of the planet' it's because you're not – not really.

"We observed that while the entire world is only a few degrees away, a user's friends are most likely to be of similar age and come from the same country."

How often are you surprised by the connections you find through Facebook?

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author

Dave McGinn writes about fitness trends for the Life section and also reports for Globe Arts. Prior to joining the Globe, he was a freelance journalist, covering topics from trying to eat Michael Phelps' diet to why the Joker is the best villain in comics history. He's working on improving his 10k time. More

Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at privacy@globeandmail.com.