Incredible infographic displays Facebook's global reach

We get the feeling that Facebook intern Paul Butler may just bag himself a full-time position at the Social Network giant if he keeps producing fantastic data like this neon-infused infographic.

In a blog post entitled "Visualising Friendships" Butler explains how the map shows the locality of friendships on Facebook.

Butler wanted to see how geography and political borders affected our social network connections and so began to analyse and plot the data.

He took a sample of 10 million active Facebook users, and took the contact's current city, their friend's current cities and merged the data with the longitude and latitude of each city and plotted them using an open-source statistics environment called R.

Butler explains how at first the data just provided a white blob, but by defining "weights for each pair of cities as a function of the Euclidean distance between them and the number of friends between them" and plotting lines, he eventually (after some serious rendering) got to the image you see above.

"What really struck me, though, was knowing that the lines didn't represent coasts or rivers or political borders, but real human relationships", said Butler.

"Each line might represent a friendship made while travelling, a family member abroad, or an old college friend pulled away by the various forces of life".

"It's not just a pretty picture, it's a reaffirmation of the impact we have in connecting people, even across oceans and borders".

Very profound. Even if it is really just a pretty picture of the world. Albeit a world without Russia, China, Antarctica and most of Africa.

You can see the full 3.8MB hi-res image here.