Global text study shows we’re connected

A study of text messaging habits suggests everyone on the planet may be just six or seven handshakes away from anyone else.

Using 30 billion text messages sent in a single month as raw data, Microsoft researchers found patterns that indicate any two people on average are distanced by 6.6 degrees of separation, meaning that they could be linked by a string of seven or fewer acquaintances, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

Researchers examined the addresses of 30 billion text messages made by 180 million people around the world, stripped of their actual text or names. They found that the average length of social distance between the texters was 6.6 steps, and that 78 per cent of the pairs could be connected in seven hops or less, the newspaper said.

The Microsoft scientists said the research might have applications for political campaigns, charity efforts, natural disaster relief and searches for missing persons, the Post said.

One of the researchers, Eric Horvitz, said, “What we’re seeing suggests there may be a social connectivity constant for humanity.”

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