You Are Just 4.74 Steps Away From Everyone on Facebook

An analysis of Facebook's 721 million members has revealed that you are connected to any one member on Facebook via a maximum average of 4.74 hops. Really?

This bit of information comes via a lengthy post called on Facebook's Anatomy of Facebook data blog. The analysis is the most comprehensive so far, reaching, statistically, more than 10 percent of the world's population. Facebook also noted that 69 billion friendships were evaluated. The conclusion that there are fewer than previously expected jumps between users is based on the finding that, as you can see above, only 10 percent of people have less than 10 friends, 20 percent have less than 25, while 50 percent (the median) have over 100 friends. The average number of friends is 190.

If all those friend relations are connected, Facebook discovered that though 99.6 percent of all friendship pairs are connected by paths with 5 degrees (6 hops), 92 percent are connected by only four degrees (5 hops). Not surprisingly, as we get more connected, the number of hops is decreasing: The average distance in 2008 was 5.28 hops, now it is at 4.74.

This number, of course, feels somewhat strange, at least if you use the word "friendship" connections. Is any person on this globe only 4.74 friendship hops away? No. Perhaps we should consider them contact hops, but not friendship hops. Many of us may have contacts who have collected thousands of "friends" and may serve as distribution pillars of contacts. What's more, we all may have contacts we really don't know or never interacted with.

Douglas Perry is an author and journalist from Portland, Oregon. His many articles have appeared in the likes of Tom's Guide, Tom's Hardware, The Oregonian, and several newspapers. He has covered topics including security, hardware, and cars, and has written five books. In his spare time, he enjoys watching The Sopranos.