Did you believe this photo? You've been had
A WOMAN who was slammed for appearing in a photograph to look at her phone while walking past an injured victim of London's Westminster terror attack was exploited by a Russian bot, it has been revealed.
The subject - who was wearing a hijab - of the viral image was heavily criticised after Twitter user @SouthLoneStar first posted it online, with the hashtags #PrayforLondon and #BanIslam.
The post was accompanied with the caption: "Muslim woman pays no mind to the terror attack, casually walks by a dying man while checking her phone".
Thousands of people shared the post and suggested the woman pictured didn't care about the attack that left five people dead and many more injured in March this year.
But it has since been revealed that the @SouthLoneStar account - which was described as a "Proud TEXAN and AMERICAN patriot" in its bio - was a Russian bot.
@SouthLoneStar was identified as a Russian account by Twitter in response to its US inquiries about the country's influence in the 2016 presidential election, Wired reported.
In June 2016, the account, which had 16,826 followers, also tweeted: "I hope UK after #BrexitVote will start to clean their land from Muslim invasion!" and "UK voted to leave future European Caliphate! #BrexitVote".
Twitter shut the account down after it was identified as Russian in a list published by American Democrats.
New Knowledge chief executive Jonathon Morgan, told Wired: "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 freelance photographer who captured the image of the woman crossing Westminster Bridge said at the time there were two sides to the story. Photographer Jamie Lorriman said those on social media who used her to make wrongful assumptions should be ashamed.
He said a series of images he captured on the day showed she had more emotional depth than what was assumed.
Mr Lorriman said the second image in the sequence showed her in a clearly emotional state, with distress written all over her face.
"In the other picture in the sequence she looks truly distraught ... personally I think she looks distressed in both pictures," Mr Lorriman told the ABC at the time.
"The people who took on that picture are being rather selective.
"To assume she was ignoring someone is impossible to know, the look on the woman's face, she's horrified, she's in the middle of a traumatic situation.
"She probably just wanted to get off the bridge.
"I feel so sorry for the woman in the picture. If she's seen this, she must feel awful."
For all the criticism, many rushed to the woman's defence on social media.
Twitter user @rashedalyoha pointed out that nobody shamed a white man who "did the same thing" in a similar picture.
Another user, Barbara Davis, said: "Can no one see why a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf might be worried for her safety at that point? The white guy not so much".
RogueBennyBen wrote: "Who knows what they were doing. Plenty of people involved. May even have been told to walk on. Judgment not needed".
The suspect in the attack was shot and killed by police, but not before he stabbed hero cop PC Keith Palmer to death. The attacker was later identified as 52-year-old Khalid Masood, a former English teacher who was named Adrian Russell Ajao.