FACEBOOK MAKING THE WORLD SMALLER
In a data report released on November 21, Facebook announced that its users enjoy about 4.74 degrees of separation. In a post entitled “Anatomy of Facebook,” the social networking giant shattered the long-standing conventional wisdom of “six degrees of separation,” stating, “The average distance in 2008 was 5.28 hops, while now it is 4.74.”
The studies were non-peer-reviewed analyses conducted in conjunction with the Università degli Studi di Milano, reports CNN. Facebook called its inquiries “the largest social network studies ever released.” It credited “the rise of modern computing and social networks” for the broad data reserve it was able to study, and found that an astonishing, “99.6 [percent] of all pairs of users are connected by paths with 5 degrees (6 hops), [or less].”
CONGRESS BEGINS SOPA HEARINGS?
The House of Representatives began hearings on the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) on Wednesday, November 16. According to the New York Daily News, the policy is “designed to protect the rights of film companies and music labels” by curbing copyright infringement by certain sites. However, an open letter from internet giants Google, Twitter, Facebook and Yahoo opposes the bill, arguing that the legislation may “expose law-abiding American internet and technology companies to new, uncertain liabilities,” according to the Daily News. Said Rep. Lamar Hunt (R—Tex.), proposer of the act, in a November 16 hearing: “The problem of rogue websites is real, immediate and widespread. It harms all sectors of the economy.” The bill will go to the House floor for debate on December 15, and is likely to be a hotly contested policy issue.
“SUPER COMMITTEE” FAILS TO FORGE BUDGET DEAL
On November 22, a “super committee” of congressional delegates tasked with drafting a plan to help reduce the budget deficit announced that after about two and a half months of negotiating, it was unable achieve its goal. The failure to negotiate a deal will trigger automatic, across-the-board spending cuts, or sequestration, totaling almost $1.2 trillion. These cuts will be initiated in January 2013, impacting many different areas of the budget including both defense and domestic programs.
In an effort to help the country rein in spending, congress set up a bipartisan group of six Senators and six House representatives this past summer during debates regarding raising the debt ceiling. In early August, congress passed the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA), a compromise between Democrats and Republicans that allowed the debt ceiling to be increased by $2.8 trillion. The BCA called for the group of 12 congress members — since dubbed the “super committee” — to find $1.2 trillion to cut from the budget deficit under the threat of sequestration.
ROCHESTER'S UNEMPLOYMENT RATE AT RECORD LOW
In a November 23 article, the Democrat and Chronicle reported that unemployment figures in the Rochester area have reached a 3-year low. Rochester’s unemployment rate has been consistently low over the past three years, and in October was registered at about 6.7 percent. The D&C reports that Rochester’s unemployment numbers in October were lower than that of “Buffalo (7 percent), Syracuse (7.2 percent) and New York City (9 percent).”
Accompanying the favorable employment report was the growth that the region has also experienced, with the area, “adding 7,900 private-sector jobs in the last 12 months, a growth rate of 1.8 percent that again outstripped the state and the nation.” And the growth is expected to continue, according to New York State analyst Kevin Jack: “The metro area should continue to enjoy a relatively strong labor market over the next six to 12 months.”