Yahoo, Facebook Want to Find Out if It’s a ‘Small World’ After All

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Just how small a world is it, after all? A British journalist may have found that you can go from a random tweet to personal information in just nine steps, but now Yahoo! and Facebook are teaming up to find out more with the Small World Experiment.

According to Yahoo! Research, the 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.”

(MORE: Nine Degrees of Separation: How Easily Your Personal Info Can Be Found Online)

For those who sign up, the experiment provides a choice of contact—or, as Yahoo! calls them, “Target Persons”; you can also volunteer to become one of those—for them to reach, and leaves it up to them to choose the friend they think might be most useful in reaching the target person in the shortest number of “moves.”

It sounds like a fun way to find out how connected we all are to each other, and the internet; it’s also a great piece of PR for Yahoo! and Facebook. Everything seems too good to be true… so it’s probably all just a front for the creation of some kind of online Facebook spy ring or something, right? Here’s hoping that Yahoo! Research launches the “Completely Paranoid World Experiment” soon, just to rein me in.

MORE: Your Facebook Friends Aren’t Your Own Choice, Says Science

Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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