Playing “six degrees of separation” just got a little more difficult, as six is no longer apt. According to a new study from the University of Milan, the number of people separating any two individuals in the world is now less than five in the current age of social networks.

With Facebook bringing together more 700 million people, researchers used algorithms to deduce that the average number of links from one random person on the site to another person was 4.74 globally and 4.37 here in the States. The previous number of six was determined back in the 1960s by research volunteers sending postcards through friends of friends to specific individuals in Boston.

The findings, of course, rest on the grey area that is a “Facebook friend” and the nature of that relationship. After all, you don’t actually have to know someone to be one’s friend, therein raising the bigger question as to whether or not social networks have really brought us closer together.

[via New York Times]