Amid the 2023 Onam celebrations in Kerala, a Twitter user shared a photo of a railway line decorated with brightly-coloured flowers. A train on the tracks was painted with floral patterns. On a bridge above the train, the words “Kasargod-Trivandrum” were written.
The tweet said: “This is a picture of a railway station in Kerala specially decorated for Onam. The flowers near the tracks are real and have been planted specially for the occasion. Onam is celebrated from 20 August to 2 September.”
India Today found that the viral image was AI-generated, and did not show an actual station decorated for Onam.
We noticed a watermark for “Copper & Black” in the viral photo. A reverse Image search on Google led us to Facebook user Aneesh Chakkottil, who shared the viral image on July 29, 2023. He claimed that the photo showed the Onam special Vande Bharat Express that travelled from Kasaragod to Trivandrum. In the post’s comments, he mentioned that this image was AI-generated.
India Today got in touch with Aneesh Chakkottil, a native of Shoranur in Kerala’s Palakkad district. Chakkottil, who runs an advertising agency in the UAE, said that he used the generative AI tool Midjourney to create the image of the floral-painted train and station.
“To clear up any misunderstandings, I added the watermark ‘Copper & Black’, the name of my advertising agency, to the image. Just my mind created this picture. Because I wished to view it that way, I generated this image.”
After the image went viral, the Divisional Railway Manager of Thiruvananthapuram posted a clarification from the official Twitter account and stated that the train in the image was not from Kerala. “Fake news alert! An edited picture of a colourful train is circulating in social media with a claim that is from a railway station in Kerala. The claim is false. The train in the image is from Kyoto, Japan. Do not fall for fake news,” the tweet read.
Incidentally, a keyword search revealed that painted trains of this kind are actually common in Japan.
Thus, it is clear that the viral image of a floral-painted train and decorated railway station does not show a real station in Kerala.