The study was carried out in May and involved all of the social network's active members. Facebook defines a user as active if they have logged on at least once over the past 28 days. The authors of the report say that they ‘assume that 'degree of separation' is the same as 'distance minus one’ says Kevin Bacon. The experiment is the biggest test to date for an idea first proposed by the Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy in 1929. He suggested there were six degrees of separation between any two people in the world. The Managing Director of Gateway Kent says ‘Facebook has made such a different to the way people communicate these days. On a personal and professional level I use Facebook. Since so many people spend so much time on Facebook it makes sense that you communicate news and events about your company on Facebook.’
Gateway Kent examines previous research that was done by the psychologist Stanley Milgram in the 1960s involved delivering a letter. Volunteers were asked to make sure it reached a specific person, but they were told to only pass it through personal acquaintances who already knew each other. The problem was that this only involved a few hundred initial subjects, and there was no way to know that the routes the letters took were the most direct ones possible. His social network had 721 million members at the time of the experiment - representing around 10% of the global population. The Managing Director of Gateway Kent is astounded by the how things have changed so quickly in the past few decades, ‘the future really is exciting if you cast your thinking forward and wonder how different things will be in terms of technology in the next 50 years.’
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