Twitter’s Five Degrees of Separation

Over the past year, we’ve spent a lot of time exploring Twitter. One of the things we’ve been curious about is how connected people are to each other within Twitter.

So, we sliced and diced more than 5.2 billion Twitter friendships (the number of friend and follower relationships) to see the connectivity of the Twitter network.

We discovered that Twitter is, in many, ways a network with only five degrees of separation. This means that nearly everyone on Twitter is just five steps away from each other. We describe this separation between two people as “friendship distance”.

Here are our major findings:

  • The most common friendship distance is five steps. (The average distance is 4.67 steps)
  • The second most common friendship distance is four steps.
  • On average, about 50% of people on Twitter are only four steps away from each other, while nearly everyone is five steps away.
  • After visiting an average of 3.32 people within the friend network, Twitter users can expect to find one of their followers!

The complete report can be found here.

11 Comments on “Twitter’s Five Degrees of Separation”

  1. That’s remarkable. I wasn’t an early adopter of Twitter. I thought it was very silly at first, but then I began using it after I realized just how powerful it is, especially when it comes to marketing your own website. Just a couple retweet’s and your article has a reach of thousands of people, who could also send your article out to thousands of their followers. What a tremendous tool for website owners.

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  5. Mildly interesting… but I wonder to what degree this is skewed by Twitter ‘users’ (generally corporate or government entities) with huge numbers of followers. E.g. I follow CNN Breaking News, which has over 3 million followers. So over 3 million users are only two steps from me — but that strains the concept of “connection”, I think.

  6. … or does that count? I guess if you’re going only in one direction, CNN is mostly a dead end (3 million followers, but they only follow 28.) To get from me to one of those 3 million you’d have to go from me to a followed user (CNN) to a *following* user, and maybe that’s not what they were looking at…

  7. This is quite astounding information. This is certainly a statement about how social media is shrinking social and corporate borders.

    There is an interview series of social media experts discussing a wide range of current social media trends and practices, that you might find very interesting.

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