NEWS16 August 2011

Yahoo taps Facebook for ‘six degrees’ experiment

North America

US— Yahoo and Facebook are setting out to test the hypothesis that anyone in the world is connected to anyone else in just six steps.

The experiment aims to prove or disprove that which was first suggested by Harvard sociologist Stanley Milgram when he asked 300 people to get a message to a Boston stockbroker using their personal networks.

Only about 60 of the messages reached their target, with the average number of steps in the chain being six – coining the phrase ‘six degrees of separation’.

Yahoo’s research department is aiming to replicate that experiment, this time using Facebook, which has 750 million users worldwide.

Users who want to take part are given the name of a target and asked to pick one of their Facebook friends to pass the message to in the hope it reaches the right person. Participants also have the option to become a target.

You can find out more here.