There are nearly 1.6 billion active Facebook users around the world, so what’s the chance of you being connected to any of them? Actually, according to Facebook Research, pretty close: 3.57 degrees close.
The data was released in celebration of the so-called Friends Day (made up by Facebook to recognize its birthday) and in honor of its 12th birthday, the social network says “each person in the world [using Facebook] is connected to every other person by an average of three and a half other people.” The concept is similar to Six Degrees of Separation (or Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, if you prefer), except in the Facebook universe, we are a tighter-knit family.
Facebook says the number is shrinking. When its researchers, along with those at Cornell and the University of Milan, studied the data in 2011, the degrees of separation was 3.74. Naturally, as more people sign up, that number gets smaller. (And no, Facebook isn’t dead; according to its recent earnings call, the user base has actually increased, thanks to a shift toward mobile computing.)
To find yours, head to this blog post (you’ll need to be logged into Facebook). Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has a 3.17 degrees of separation, but COO Sheryl Sandberg is much closer with 2.92. Most people average between 2.9 and 4.2.
Facebook says analyzing the data is not easy. “Calculating degrees of separation in a network with hundreds of billions of edges is a monumental task, because the number of people reached grows very quickly with the degree of separation,” the researchers wrote in the blog post, where they detailed how they conducted the process. And, they had to run the computation 1.6 billion times, for every Facebook user.
Of course, in the real world, relationships aren’t as close, but on Facebook, you are most likely friends with someone, or a friend of a friend, or a friend of a friend of a friend.
Friends Day videos
If you looked at your Facebook feed anytime today, you most likely saw a Friends Day video at the top of the page. “These videos stitch together special moments with your friends in a short film that can be edited and shared.
With the social network so intertwined with our lives, it’s easy to forget that there was a time before Facebook. To mark the birthday, Comedy Central’s @midnight show aired a segment that spawned the #BeforeFacebookI hashtag, where people are sharing memories from their pre-Facebook-era days on the namesake social network, as well as on Twitter. Punch in the hashtag in the search bar and read some, or share your own.
It’s hard to believe there was a time before Facebook, but we promise it’s true. Play #BeforeFacebookI with us!
Posted by @midnight on Tuesday, February 2, 2016