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Can Facebook Lower the Six Degrees of Separation?

One of the first things we covered in lecture was the idea behind the six degrees of separation. The six degrees of separation idea is the concept that anyone can be connected to any single other person in the world through at most six mutual connections of people. However, as we move further and further into this new age of technology some think this number of six may drop even lower. An article written in the New York Times in 2016, titled “Six Degrees of Separation? Facebook Finds a Smaller Number,” Jonah Engel Bromwich discusses how the global dominance of social media (specifically Facebook) may help lower the maximum number of connections needed to get from one person to another across the globe. (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/05/technology/six-degrees-of-separation-facebook-finds-a-smaller-number.html)

Bromwich writes “The social media giant released a report on its blog Thursday announcing ‘each person in the world’ is separated from every other by ‘an average of three and a half other people.’” According to the said report from Facebook, the exact number of average connections is 3.57 or 4.57 (Bromwich says the that Facebook’s report seems to have multiple definitions of “degrees” leading to the two possible numbers). Regardless, it is very interesting to think about how technology has changed this theory.

Furthermore, this article was put out in 2016. Since then, Facebook has declined but the overall technological development of the world (especially the development of developing countries) has greatly increased. Because of this, I am curious to see what the number is now. Are we down to the three degrees of separation? Less? How connected will we be by 2020 or even farther into the future?

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