A Russian bot account claimed an image showed a Muslim woman ignoring victims of the Westminster terror attack and shared it as propaganda online.
@SouthLoneStar, which shared the image, was identified as a Russian account as part of a US investigation into the country’s influence on the 2016 presidential election.
The account tweeted:”Muslim woman pays no mind to the terror attack, casually walks by a dying man while checking phone #PrayForLondon #Westminster #BanIslam.”
Twitter has confirmed that the tweet was created by a Russian bot account. The social media giant has since closed down the account, Wired reported.
In the wake of the March 22 Westminster attack that left five dead, an image of a woman wearing a hijab and clutching her phone as she walked along the bridge began to circulate on social media.
Walk on by… pic.twitter.com/8kCHYoNTIh
— Richard 🦃 Spencer (@RichardBSpencer) March 22, 2017
Far-right extremists suggested she was more interested in her phone than helping nearby victims.
But both the photographer and woman pictured said the image was taken out of context and that she was “horrified” at the scenes around her.
Photographer Jamie Lorriman told Australia’s ABC that his series of pictures captured the woman’s distress.
“In the other picture in the sequence she looks truly distraught … personally I think she looks distressed in both pictures,” he said. “It’s wrong it’s been misappropriated in that way.”
— TellMAMAUK (@TellMamaUK) March 24, 2017
The @SouthLoneStar account’s bio, which had 16,826 followers, read: “Proud TEXAN and AMERICAN patriot”.
In June 2016, the account also tweeted about the Britain’s European Union Referendum vote.
It wrote: “I hope UK after #BrexitVote will start to clean their land from Muslim invasion!” and “UK voted to leave future European Caliphate! #BrexitVote”.
The tweet was shown to Wired as part of a cache of posts collected by US security startup New Knowledge for research into extremism online.
Jonathon Morgan, chief executive of New Knowledge, said: “The account occasionally wades into a European political discussion, which is not what I would expect a domestically-focused Conservative Texan to do under any circumstance.”
The team collected 7,500 tweets from 40 accounts that were run as Russian propaganda tools.
All the accounts appeared in a list of Russian Twitter accounts published by the US Democrats.