Sysomos: The Kevin Bacon Game Applies To Twitter

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Many of you may have heard of or played the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, which is a trivia game based on the idea that any actor can be linked to actor Kevin Bacon within six steps through roles in movies. Of course, this game is based on an actual philosophical theory, Six Degrees of Separation, which refers to the idea that everyone is at most six steps away from any other person in terms of relationships. Today, social media monitoring and analytics startup Sysomos has released a report examining the interconnectedness of Twitter users and has uncovered a number of interesting results.

First, Sysomos examined the 5.2 billion Twitter friendships (the number of friend and follower relationships) to determine how connected users are with each other. And based on this, Sysomos discovered that Twitter is mostly a network with only five degrees of separation, with nearly everyone on Twitter just five steps (or friends, i.e. people you follow) away from each other.

According to the report, 41% of Twitter users have five degrees of separation between each other – meaning nearly everyone within Twitter is only five steps away. And many Twitter users are more closely connected; 37% of users have only four degrees of separation with each other. And 13% of users have six degrees of separation between each other.

Sysomos also examined the reachability of Twitter users, looking at the percentage of Twitter users that can be touched by reaching out a certain distance. Using the Twitter network graph, Sysomos reports that a Twitter user will encounter 83% of all other Twitter users by visiting everyone’s friends up to a distance of five steps. If the user visits all friends of friends up to six steps, 96% of all Twitter users will be covered.

In terms of local connectivity, Sysomos discovered that it only takes 3.32 steps to find someone who is following you (with a standard deviation of 1.25 friendship distances). This mean that if you trace your friends on Twitter (the people you follow) and their friends and so on, in 3.32 steps on average you will discover a follower of your own.

The interconnectivity on Twitter isn’t particularly surprising. Interconnectivity between strangers on the web in general has been increasing thanks to social networking. It’s also important to note the fact that relationships on Twitter are nonreciprocal (someone can follow you without you following back). This might explain why it takes fewer degrees to be connected on the microblogging network. In the real world relationships are two-way, similar to Facebook. Stalkers don’t really count.

Facebook already shows you your possible connections through suggested friends. And Cruxlux does this for you across connections on the web.

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