MeToo professor admits to faking Twitter profile, COVID death
An Arizona State professor has admitted that the Twitter account of someone who recently died of COVID was a fabrication created by her.
BethAnn McLaughlin told the New York Times Tuesday that she created the phony account of the oppressed “anthropology professor” that eventually ignited a firestorm after the fake professor died of COVID-19.
“I take full responsibility for my involvement in creating the @sciencing_bi Twitter account,” she said in a statement through her lawyer.
“My actions are inexcusable. I apologize without reservation to all the people I hurt.”
She claims that she needs mental health treatment, which she is currently seeking.
“McLaughlin, a former professor at Vanderbilt University with a controversial track record from her time leading a group called MeTooSTEM, also said she needed mental health treatment and was pursuing that now,” reports AZ Central.
“She said she would step down from her involvement in MeTooSTEM, the organization she founded to root out harassment in the sciences,” the Phoenix paper added.
The account created by McLaughlin featured a fanciful story of an anthropology professor who fled the South because of anti-gay sentiment there and claimed to be Native American, identifying this year as Hopi Indian, says the New York Post.
But the story began to unravel when McLaughlin claimed the person behind the account died after contracting COVID because they were forced to teach during the epidemic.
Discrepancies appeared in the details of the university’s response to the pandemic after ASU was contacted by people concerned about the death. Soon, there appeared to be a connection between the fake account and McLaughlin’s legitimate account.
“After McLaughlin announced the death, other people began sleuthing out details that tied the accounts together. ASU said on Sunday that the alleged death appeared to be a hoax,” says AZ Central.
Twitter users were outraged in particular because McLaughlin was a social justice activist who has also been accused of harassment.
“If I’m getting this right,” wrote Sturgeon’s Law, “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.”
In February, the Chronicle of Higher Education featured a story about McLaughlin’s controversial leadership of MeTooStem, which previously won her an award from MIT for her campaign to punish harassment.
“While I have worked very closely with BethAnn over the last year or so, I can no longer support her leadership as she displays behavior patterns our organization has vowed to fight against,” Teresa Swanson, one of three members of MeTooSTEM’s leadership team, wrote in a message to The Chronicle.
PHOTO: Photo: Boston Globe/Boston Globe via Getty Images
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