What first appeared to be a tragic story, a professor or Twitter scientist who remained outspoken about unfairness in academia and forced to work in-person even though she was wrestling with COVID-19 for months and later died, now seems to be nothing but a mere hoax!
image credit: RT
Various reports and information gathered from different online peepers revealed that the Twitter account @Sciening_Bi, who pretend to be a bisexual anthropology professor of Native American ancestry, is actually a phoney online persona.
It was found that this fake account may be linked to BethAnn McLaughlin, the head of an activist group called MeTooSTEM, which fights for the sexual harassment within the scientific community.
A person behind the twitter handle @Sciencing_Bi tweeted claiming that one of her employees working at Arizona State University, was forced to deliver lectures to some 200 students from where she caught the deadly COVID-19 virus.
Later on July 31, McLaughlin announced that the anonymous professor had died from complications of the virus.
Just a few days later, Twitter suspended both the accounts of @Sciening_Bi and McLaughlin for violating Twitter policies, among other things, inhibiting the interaction of fake accounts.
On the same day, a spokesperson for Arizona State University, Gerardo Gonzalez claimed that the anonymous user claiming to be a professor is just “hoax”.
The university administration claimed that they didn’t receive any such reports about the death of their employees because of COVID-19. The university has already closed its campuses in March.
“The account had posted inaccurate information about the university. We also have had no one, such as a family member or friends report a death to anyone at the university,” Gonzalez said.
The anonymous person behind @Sciencing_Bi twitter account was misleading people for years. She used to tweet about her experiences and unfairness she faced because of being an indigenous woman, LGBTQ in the academic community, more recently, she claimed to be bullied by the university administration and narrating her long scripted suffering from Covid-19.
People who are familiar with this particular scientific community on Twitter sensed something fishy from the inconsistency of her stories that didn’t make any sense to them. Sometimes, she used stock images to create a deception of real-life experience, which was otherwise a hoax.
Misleading people was one thing, but the anonymous account started capitalizing on people’s sympathy and asked for donations to McLaughlin’s Venmo account after claiming that her dean had asked to perform a DNA test to prove her ancestry.
McLaughlin denied creating a fake account on twitter, but she did confess that she had access to the account. She also denied the fact that @Sciencing_Bi is fake and claimed that she also met the professor in-person.
McLaughlin said, “I am not going to dox anyone. Thank you for your interest.”
Shortly after @Sciencing_Bi’s supposed death, McLaughlin implied that they were in an intimate relationship, announcing on Twitter: “Looking at her side of the bed and crying. Just a lot of crying. I literally can do nothing.”
@Sciencing_Bi also had a Zoom Memorial held by McLaughlin to which only five people showed up. Apparently, she was the only person who claimed to have met the anonymous professor in-person.
Well, this is not the first time McLaughlin has been involved in any controversial issue. A report from Science Magazine published in March reported that the woman exploited her power while being the head of MeTooSTEM and supposedly “sidelined people of color and bullied volunteers, activists, and fellow leaders.”
Even if the account was created to serve a particular purpose, this isn’t the right way to do “good”. Not only this will lead to mistrust among people, but also inflict harm to any other genuine cause fighting for similar issues.
“This is a good thing about Science Twitter, that it gives people who are marginalized a voice,” said Mr. Eisen, a colleague working with McLaughlin. “It sucks that BethAnn took advantage of that.”