The founder of MeTooSTEM on Tuesday admitted to fabricating a Twitter account that supposedly belonged to an American Indian professor who later “died” from coronavirus.
Dr. BethAnn McLaughlin, a neuroscientist and former faculty member at Vanderbilt University, had posted a series of tweets Friday eulogizing @Sciencing_Bi, a Hopi Arizona State University (ASU) professor, who McLaughlin said had succumbed to coronavirus.
Although @Sciencing_Bi was a well-known figure on Twitter, some irregularities with their existence soon became apparent and their account along with McLaughin’s was suspended by the social media platform.
“I take full responsibility for my involvement in creating the @sciencing_bi Twitter account,” McLaughlin said in a statement through her lawyer to The New York Times.
“My actions are inexcusable. I apologize without reservation to all the people I hurt.” (RELATED: A Native American Professor Who Supposedly Died Of Coronavirus Appears To Be Completely Made Up)
this arc culminated in a (retrospectively) hilarious eulogy thread by bethann, in which she really wants to hammer home that she had a cool Hopi friend pic.twitter.com/PRz4Mhcysf
— aspirant universitaire de gauche (@endlesswario) August 2, 2020
The immediate reaction of @Sciencing_Bi’s death was one of sadness and anger.
California State University Northridge biologist Jeremy Yoder, University of New Hampshire cosmologist Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, Johns Hopkins oncologist Tatiana Prowell, University of Maine climate scientist Jacquelyn Gill and University of California, Berkeley professor Michael Eisen reacted with sadness to the news, the Daily Beast reported.
“The death of @Sciencing_Bi is on the hands of those who compelled her to teach in the midst of COVID,” tweeted California State University Dominguez Hills biologist Terry McGlynn, according to The Daily Beast. @Sciencing_Bi had criticized ASU for forcing her to return to work in April during the pandemic, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported.
However, soon after @Sciencing_Bi’s supposed death, several Twitter users realized photos posted on that account were stock photos. McLaughlin was then scrutinized since she had been the only person to meet the professor in person.
another from a friend pic.twitter.com/DQbHEhKurW
— aspirant universitaire de gauche (@endlesswario) August 3, 2020
The Twitter accounts of McLaughlin and @Sciencing_Bi were suspended by Monday morning for violating Twitter’s “spam and platform manipulation policies,” a Twitter spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation in an email.
“Unfortunately, this appears to be a hoax,” said Jerry Gonzalez, an ASU spokesperson, according to The Daily Beast.
McLaughlin founded MeTooSTEM in 2018, an advocacy network which provides informed counsel to survivors of sexual harassment and gender discrimination. McLaughlin has been the subject of criticism from individuals who have resigned from the organization citing her hostile management style, according to BuzzFeed News.
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