Instant messaging may be the key to proving the six degrees of separation theory, if a new survey is anything to go by.

According to the BBC, Microsoft researchers however, have discovered that it's in fact seven degrees of separation, ensuring on average that any two people can be linked by seven or fewer acquaintances.

Eric Horvitz and Jure Leskove studied the addresses of 30 billion Microsoft Messenger instant-message users, which accounts to roughly half of the world's instant-messaging traffic, in June 2006.

Horvitz told the Washington Post: "What we're seeing suggests there may be a social connectivity constant for humanity. We are showing on a very large scale that this idea goes beyond folklore."

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