A controversial #MeToo activist has been accused of exploiting a Twitter account belonging to a non-existent bisexual Native American teacher. 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 an imaginary anthropologist under the pseudonym @Science_Bi.
In touching praise for her supposedly made-up comrade, McLaughlin spoke poetically about how her friend worked tirelessly to help Indigenous women overcome sexual assault and harassment. “She was powerful and she worked so hard,” wrote the #MeToo frontman. She even held a Zoom memorial for her deceased compatriot, but apparently not real.
The fraud was only discovered after @ Sciences_Bi’s tragic “death” prompted other academics and friends, none of whom had actually met the ASU “professor”, to start asking questions. . People began to wonder why ASU hadn’t announced the death of a professor. Further research revealed that the images posted by @scienceing_bi were in fact stock photos.
McLaughlin is even accused of sharing a photo of her own daughter, claiming that it was in fact her imaginary native teacher-friend.
It was also odd that @Science_Bi appeared to be tweeting from the hospital at the time of his death, urging academics to tackle misinformation about the disease.
Academics and activists who operated in the same Twitter circles as McLaughlin expressed frustration, then outright anger, as @ Science_Bi’s story began to unravel.
A person who previously claimed to be “buddies” with the ASU “professor”, while admitting that they had never met in person, has publicly stated that she realized the account was wrong, a few barely hours after expressing sorrow – and receiving hearty condolences – for the “death” of @ Sciences_Bi.
Observers expressed astonishment at the apparent hoax and speculated that McLaughlin had used the Twitter account to give himself a “street reputation” with minority groups.
McLaughlin had recently been criticized, after the resignation of the management team of MeTooSTEM over his alleged mismanagement of the non-profit organization. She had also been accused of “marginalizing and harassing people of color.”
HerTwitter account and that of @Science_Bi have been suspended.
McLaughlin could not be reached immediately to comment. On Sunday, he tweeted to a reporter who questioned the identity of @ Sciencing_Bi for the Republic of Arizona: “I’m afraid I can’t say much about the relationship. If people interact with me on Twitter using accounts that are not related to their name, I try to do this in good faith, assuming they are authentic. ”
McLaughlin drew attention as the leading leader of the #MeTooSTEM movement 2 years ago through his non-profit group MeTooSTEM. In 2019, he gained praise, funding and a platform for sexual harassment victims in 2019, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the National Institutes of Health. Science featured her in a profile and pinned a praised tweet from Anita Hill to the top of her Twitter stream.
But as his profile grew, his colleagues and volunteers at MeTooSTEM began to resign, saying they were bullying them. Colorful women have repeatedly reported that they ignore or silence them. The organization followed more resignations in March until only McLaughlin and a volunteer listed on his website. An award-winning biologist, MeTooSTEM board member Carol Greider, wrote to Science today that she resigned from the board in early March due to other duties.