An average pair of Facebook users now have only 3.57 degrees of separation between them, the social network says. The statistic has been released as Facebook marks its 12th birthday, and is also celebrating Friends Day.

To mark Friends Day the site released an updated statistic which says the typical degree of separation between any two Facebook users is 3.57 people. “This is a significant reflection of how closely connected the world has become,” Facebook said.

“When people connect, powerful things happen and lives are changed. We see this on Facebook every day, whether it’s an exchange with an old friend that brings a smile to your face or a new connection that changes your life path, or even the world.”

Those who log on to the social network, which has more than 1.5 billion users, on Thursday will be greeted by a special video about them and their friends, as part of a series of events to showcase how friendship dominates the site.

Founder Mark Zuckerberg said: “We figured that rather than having this birthday that focuses on us, we should make sure that the world focus on what’s important that’s actually happening, which are only stories of how people are connecting around the world and it’s just amazing and it’s inspiring to hear.”

Facebook Messenger, the site’s instant messaging spin-off, has also introduced two new sets of stickers called “Best Friends” and “Friendship” that can be downloaded free and used in conversations.

Mr Zuckerberg, along with fellow Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg were holding a Friends Day event at the company’s Menlo Park headquarters, hosting Facebook users with “extraordinary” stories of friendship.

The group included GirlCrew, a Facebook group originally created in Dublin, which empowers women to find friends and organise events in their area. There are now 22,000 people in GirlCrew Facebook groups in more than 40 cities worldwide.

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