Fred Stutzman

Are we really so undisciplined that we can’t stay off of Facebook when we have work to do?

In many cases, the answer is yes, says Fred Stutzman, who earned his Ph.D. from the School of Information and Library Science in 2011 and who studies social media.

A native of Albany, N.Y., Stutzman chose UNC for his undergraduate years as well as graduate school. His father had majored in business at Carolina; Stutzman chose economics. (Stutzman is now a postdoctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon University.)

“I looked at a number of schools,” he said. “UNC was the best value.”

He says that sites such as Facebook and Twitter make people feel an obligation to constantly keep up, even while using the computer for work.

Stutzman’s goal is to make social media more beneficial to people. Sometimes, that can mean taking them away. So Stutzman created software to do just that.

Freedom, which runs on PCs or Macs, blocks access to the Internet for four to eight hours. Anti-Social, another Stutzman product, runs on Macs and turns off only social parts of the Internet.

“It turns the computer back into a word processor,” said Stutzman, who has received thank-you notes from people who finished dissertations or books with the aid of his products.

Those are just two of his software creations. A social media expert, Stutzman has been quoted in publications including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chronicle of Higher Education, Forbes, the Guardian and many more.

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