Facebook and Yahoo have joined forces to test a long-standing theory in sociology that everyone on Earth is connected together in a giant social network.
Yahoo’s the Small World Experiment is designed to test the hypothesis that anyone in the world can get a message to anyone else in just ‘six degrees of separation’ by passing it from friend to friend. Sociologists have tried to prove or disprove this claim for decades, but it is still unresolved.
Using Facebook, Yahoo has the technology to put the hypothesis to a proper scientific test.
In this experiment, participants called ‘Senders’ forward messages to their Facebook friends in an attempt to reach a given ‘Target’ individual, about whom they are given certain identifying information, in the shortest number of steps possible.
By participating in this experiment, recruited persons not only get to see how they are connected to people they might never otherwise encounter, but also help to advance the science of social networks.