Why not call them personal network sites?
I’ve often wondered why scholars studying Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, etc., call these platforms ‘social network sites’ instead of personal network sites. After all, these are platforms built around individuals and their personal (or egocentric) networks rather than around ‘whole’ (or sociocentric) networks such as clans, universities, localities or firms. In social network analysis this distinction between personal and whole networks is crucial (see Knox et al 2006), yet it gets conflated in the Internet literature. For instance, Facebook allows for the creation of ‘networks’ (as in whole networks) and ‘groups’ but these are not as central to the site as its immense tangle of 300 million personal networks. It is the ‘logic’ of personal networks that drives Facebook, not the logic of whole networks (Diagram by Peter Timusk).
Knox, H., Savage, M. & Harvey, P. (2006). Social networks and the study of relations: networks as method, metaphor and form. Economy & Society, 35(1)