You have /5 articles left.
Sign up for a free account or log in.

Neuroscientist BethAnn McLaughlin, founder of the MeTooSTEM organization, admitted Tuesday to creating a fake friend on Twitter, running the anonymous account for years and then killing off the persona with a case of teaching-related COVID-19. McLaughlin’s followers suspected something was up after she held a sparsely attended Zoom memorial for the supposed late adjunct professor of anthropology at Arizona State University. The saga took science Twitter by storm as the fake identity, @Sciencing_Bi, had previously insinuated herself into people’s sexual harassment cases, updated followers on her coronavirus condition and defended McLaughlin against ongoing criticism that she was trying to own the general #MeTooSTEM movement.

McLaughlin has taken particular criticism for claiming that Sciencing_Bi was a member of the Hopi Tribe -- what some have called “digital redface.” She tried to distance herself from Sciencing_Bi when things began to unravel over the weekend. But she eventually told The New York Times through her attorney that she needs mental health treatment and that she takes "full responsibility" for her part in the fraud.

“My actions are inexcusable. I apologize without reservation to all the people I hurt,” McLaughlin said. “My failures are mine alone, so I’m stepping away from all activities with MeTooSTEM to ensure that it isn’t unfairly criticized for my actions.”