A controversial #MeToo activist has been accused of operating a Twitter account belonging to a non-existent bisexual Native American professor. Suspicions were raised after she announced that her ‘friend’ had died from Covid-19.

BethAnn McLaughlin, a neuroscientist who founded the nonprofit group MeTooSTEM, allegedly created a fictional professor at Arizona State University (ASU), and tweeted as the imaginary anthropologist under the handle @Sciencing_Bi. 

In an emotional eulogy for her purportedly made-up comrade, McLaughlin waxed poetic about how her friend worked tirelessly to help indigenous women overcome sexual assault and harassment. “She was powerful and she worked so stinking hard,” the #MeToo ringleader wrote. She even held a Zoom memorial for her departed, but apparently not real, compatriot. 

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

The fraud was only discovered after @Sciencing_Bi’s tragic ‘death’ prompted fellow academics and friends, none of whom had actually met the ASU ‘professor’, to begin asking questions. People started to wonder why there was no announcement from ASU about a faculty death. Further digging revealed that pictures posted by @scienceing_bi were actually stock photos. 

For what it’s worth, ASU’s spokesperson said they have been looking into reports about a potential death of a person claiming to be a faculty member for the last 24 hours, and have not been able to verify any connection to the university.

another (my friend isn’t imaginary, I promise)

McLaughlin is even accused of sharing a photo of her own daughter, claiming it was actually her make-believe indigenous professor-friend.

oh wow

It was also odd that @Sciencing_Bi appeared to be tweeting from the hospital as she died, urging academics to fight disinformation about the illness.

Academics and activists who operated in the same Twitter circles as McLaughlin expressed frustration, and then outright anger, as @Sciencing_Bi’s story began to unravel. 

One person who had previously claimed to be “friends” with the ASU ‘professor’, while admitting they had never met in person, publicly stated that she had come to realize the account was fake, just hours after expressing grief – and receiving copious condolences – over @Sciencing_Bi’s ‘death’.

Some irregularities have been brought to my attention. @Sciencing_Bi was an important tweep to many of us, but I did not know her in person. While awaiting clarity, I’ve removed my tweets that are being used as a substantiation I can’t confirm. Image shared for transparency.

“Creating a fake pseudonymous account and pretending various marginalized identities is wrong. It’s evil,” wrote the University of Maine’s Jacquelyn Gill. 

Observers expressed amazement at the apparent hoax, and theorized that McLaughlin had used the Twitter account to give herself ‘street cred’ with minority groups.

If I’m getting this right, a White woman who started a failed MeToo org for people in STEM only to be accused of racist harassment herself was exposed as having created an account where she pretended to be a nonexistent queer Native American professor at Arizona State University.

Imagine creating an entire fake persona to interact with so you could pretend to have an indigenous friend and not be considered racist and then get tired of keeping it up so you kill them with a convenient pandemic only to be found out as a fraud (again)

McLaughlin had recently come under fire, after the senior leadership team of MeTooSTEM resigned over her alleged poor management of the nonprofit. She had also been accused of “marginalizing and harassing people of color.” 

Her Twitter account, and that of @Sciencing_Bi, have been suspended.

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