Great Britain

Scientist confesses she was behind fake Twitter account for professor who ‘died of coronavirus’

A SCIENTIST has confessed that an Arizona State University professor who stirred up controversy when she died of COVID-19 never actually existed.

The Hopi Native American anthropology professor was the fabrication of BethAnne McLaughlin, former assistant professor of neurology at Vanderbilt University, who ran the made-up professor’s Twitter account, @Sciencing_bi. On Tuesday, McLaughlin admitted the hoax to the New York Times.

“My actions are inexcusable. I apologize without reservation to all the people I hurt,” McLaughlin said.

Created in 2016, the account posted about social issues, connected with academic professionals, and talked extensively about diversity in science and sexual harassment.

McLaughlin created a detailed background for the persona, with the account saying it was raised in Alabama, and attended Catholic School. It further claimed to have “fled the south because of their oppression of queer folk.”

In April of 2020, the account claimed to have been diagnosed with COVID-19, saying that the virus caused it to lose its language fluency. The account blamed ASU for the condition and added that it received a 15 percent reduction in pay while hospitalized.

“[The school] forced me to t

each 200 person lectures instead of closing,” the account said.

On July 31st, McLaughlin announced that the ASU professor had died of COVID-19. The news was met with outrage, with one professor saying: “This person was a scientist who got Covid because they’d been forced to teach.”

Buzzfeed News reported that statements from McLaughlin implied that she shared a romantic relationship with @Sciencing_bi.

“Looking at her side of the bed and crying. Just a lot of crying. I literally can do nothing” McLaughlin said after the death of @Sciencing_bi.

It was not long before people began suspecting that the account wasn’t real, and Twitter suspended both McLaughlin’s account and @Sciencing_bi. ASU released a statement denying that they had made any pay cuts, and that any faculty had even died.

“We also have had no one, such as a family member or friend, report a death to anyone at the university,” the statement said.

@Sciencing_bi also promoted the career of McLaughlin, sending out a petition for her to receive tenure at Vanderbilt University (the petition failed). The account also claimed that it had been asked to take a DNA test at ASU, and that people wanting to support it should send money to McLaughlin as an “intermediary.”

McLaughlin did not hold back in her confession, admitting that the entire affair was her doing.

“I take full responsibility for my involvement in creating the @sciencing_bi Twitter account” she stated through her lawyer.

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