Since 2016, there’s been a Twitter account allegedly run by an anonymous Arizona State University anthropology professor who claimed to be gay and Native American and to have fled Alabama because of the South’s “oppression of queer folk.” The widely-cited account promoted leftwing social justice issues. Recently, the writer claimed to have contracted COVID-19 because she’d been forced to come in and teach. She accused ASU of forcing her to continue giving 200-person lectures and to have cut her salary by 15% while she was hospitalized. And then came the announcement that she had died.
It was all very sad and tragic and infuriating…until the announcement came that every word of it was a big, fat lie. ASU has been closed since March and didn’t cut anyone’s salary. Also, the professor never really existed. Tuesday, one of the account’s Twitter contacts, BethAnn McLaughlin, admitted to making up the entire hoax. In a statement through her lawyer, she said, “I take full responsibility for my involvement in creating the @sciencing_bi Twitter account. My actions are inexcusable. I apologize without reservation to all the people I hurt.”
On the plus side, this does impart a very valuable lesson: Twitter is an open fire hydrant of sewage. Be very careful about which Twitter accounts you trust. There’s mine, and…well, after that, you’re on your own.