Scientist creates fake Twitter persona of university prof who 'died' of COVID-19

Scientist creates fake Twitter persona of university prof who 'died' of COVID-19

The founder of MeTooSTEM, Dr. BethAnn McLaughlin, has been exposed for fabricating an alter ego — a woke Native American professor who later “died” from COVID-19.

McLaughlin, a trained neuroscientist, had emerged into the public spotlight following the rise of the #MeToo movement. In 2019, McLaughlin faced a professional setback after a grievance committee set up by the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine upheld the university's decision to deny her tenure.

In 2017, following her rise in the #MeToo movement, McLaughlin alleged an “egregious delay” in her tenure, claiming that it violated her civil rights. The ensuing fiasco propelled her to fame in activist circles.

McLaughlin founded the MeTooSTEM advocacy network for the victims of sexual harassment and discrimination in STEM fields. She has come under fire from other individuals who worked with her in the organization, who alleged that she was abusive, according to BuzzFeed.

Amid the turmoil in her professional and activist life, McLaughlin manufactured a Native American professor named @Sciencing_Bi, a Hopi who taught at Arizona State University, to promote her views. @Sciencing_Bi quickly became a known figure in the woke academic sphere on Twitter and interacted with numerous academics.

On Friday, McLaughlin posted a eulogy of the fake persona, whom she claimed had succumbed to coronavirus.

As detailed on Heavy, irregularities with the @Sciencing_Bi figure emerged following the announcement of their supposed “death.” Pieces of the puzzle fell into place when sleuths looking into the imaginary professor's death trawled through ASU press releases and could not find any notice. Every photo posted by the account was found to be a stock image, and the only person to have contact with the account outside of Twitter was McLaughlin, who introduced the character to others.

“[T]his arc culminated in a (retrospectively) hilarious eulogy thread by [BethAnn McLaughlin], in which she really wants to hammer home that she had a cool Hopi friend,” wrote Twitter user @endlesswario.

At first, however, @Sciencing_Bi's death was met with sadness, with many, including University of Maine climate scientist Jacquelyn Gill, University of Berkeley professor Michael Eisen, Johns Hopkins oncologist Tatiana Prowell, California State University biologist Jeremy Yoder, and numerous others eulogizing her.

Both McLaughlin and the @Sciencing_Bi account were suspended at the same time on Twitter.

McLaughlin has since released a statement through her lawyer to the New York Times, that says: 

My actions are inexcusable. I apologize without reservation to all the people I hurt. As I've reflected on my actions the last few days, it's become clear to me that I need mental health treatment, which I'm pursuing now. My failures are mine alone, so I'm stepping away from all activities with #MeTooSTEM to ensure that it isn't unfairly criticized for my actions.