Facebook and Yahoo are teaming up to test the famous 1960s social experiment alleging there are only six degrees of separation between most people on the planet.
Starting this week, social scientists from each company are studying Facebook’s 750 million members to discover the average number of online connections it takes for people to relay a message to a target – someone they don’t know from around the world.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, each person on Facebook has an average of 130 friends.
Facebook describes each person’s web of connections as a the social graph. A person doesn’t know how large his or her own social network is because they don’t know who each of their friends are friends with. The site’s membership has tripled over the past two years and new members have filled in the gaps between others in social graphs.
To find out the size of your own social network, anyone with a Facebook account can join Yahoo’s small world experiment.
The study is intended to be academic social research and the result will be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. The more users that participate, the more accurate the results.
Though Facebook skews toward a younger demographic, Yahoo’s principal research scientist, Duncan Watts, said the social network provides a solid test for the world’s 6.8 billion people.
It’s not 6 billion, but it’s twice the size of the U.S. population. If it works on this network, (the six degrees hypothesis) really is true. I don’t think anyone can say, ‘Oh it works on Facebook, but it really doesn’t count.’ This is an opportunity to show that it’s true or not true.
Readers, do you think this experiment will prove the six degrees of separation theory?