AI-generated image falsely passed off as real 'flower in Myanmar resembling a monkey'

  • Published on June 5, 2024 at 08:55
  • 2 min read
  • By AFP Thailand
An AI-generated image of a flower that resembled a monkey was shared thousands of times in Burmese posts that falsely claimed it showed a genuine plant in Myanmar. Its creator said the misrepresented image was made using the Midjourney tool.

"An unknown wildflower found in villages in upper Tsawlaw Township in Kachin State," read a Burmese-language Facebook post on May 21, 2024, referring to a township in Myanmar's largest national park in northern Kachin state.

The post -- shared more than 3,900 times -- included an image appearing to show a brown flower with features that resembled a monkey.

Screenshot taken on June 3, 2024 of the false post

The image was also shared with a similar claim elsewhere on Facebook here, here and here.

Comments indicated people were misled and thought it showed a genuine flower.

"Every flower is beautiful and cute, but why is this flower scary?" one wrote.

"You shouldn't grow this. The colour is ugly, and it's scary," said another.

But the image was actually created using generative AI and does not show a real flower.

A reverse image search on Google found the image published on Instagram by a user named "scliseofai" on April 9 (archived link).

"A new set of AI monkey orchids for you," read part of the caption to the post which featured nine other images depicting flowers with monkey faces.

The caption included several hashtags such as "midjourney" as well as "aiartwork" and "generativeart".

A watermark that said "SLICEOFAI" could be also seen at the bottom right corner of the image but was missing in the image circulating on Facebook.

Below is a screenshot comparison of one false post (left) and the image shared by the Instagram user (right):

Screenshot comparison of the image in the false posts (left) and the image from Instagram (right)

The Instagram user has previously published AI-generated images of flowers with animal features here and here (archived links here and here).

In a post on May 30, the user said the image had been misrepresented as if it were a real flower with the watermark cropped (archived link).

"I am adding an extra text AI caveat to these images going forward," the user added.

AFP had previously fact checked AI-generated images being shared as genuine photos here and here.

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