Facebook started off as one of the most effective social networking web sites on the planet. Giving friends unfettered access to each other’s news feed and providing businesses with a large potential audience to organically build their “likes.”  The promise was that Facebook would always remain free to all.  But how do we define free?

What is our time worth and how do we value it?

I started off on Facebook around 2008.  Back then the possibilities seemed limitless.  I could simultaneously expand my social circle while also broadening my businesses visibility.  Potentially engaging new audiences and generating new revenue as a result.  This seemed like a worthwhile investment of effort.

In the last few years Facebook has changed for the worse. Facebook thumbs down

What was once a promising, opportunity-laden environment quickly vaporized in to a pipe dream.

Facebook took aggressive measures to lock users in to seeing more advertising, diluting the value of their news feed, spy on messaging to deliver ads relevant to your private chats, limiting posts from friends and forcing companies to buy ads to expand their audience.

There is always another way to communicate with friends and family.

The big draw is the perception of easy communication.  But how easy is that communication when Facebook throws so many obstacles in the way?  And how private is that communication when it’s not only monitored, but analyzed and indirectly shared with marketers?

Instant messaging, e-mail and the telephone still offer less invasive and more productive communication.  Just as one can broadcast to their wall on Facebook (and reach perhaps a small portion of the intended recipients) one can also blast an e-mail to a number of people at once and ensure that they all receive the message.

Investments should be reevaluated when their value decreases.

All of these changes call in to question the notion of Facebook being free.  Because as a self-employed small business owner my time is my most valuable asset.  To have Facebook go from being a productive asset to a time sink made the decision to leave a simple one.  Adding to that, to see that privacy is held in such low regard gives me greater motivation to abandon ship.  On December 21st, 2014 I left Facebook and I have no plans to return unless the above shortcomings are addressed.