Viral image of 'modified tractors used by protesting farmers' in India is AI-generated

By: Ankita Kulkarni
February 14 2024

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Viral image of 'modified tractors used by protesting farmers' in India is AI-generated

Screenshots showing the viral posts circulating on social media. (Source: X/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict Fake

Several discrepancies observed in the viral image indicate it has been digitally edited and is not real.

Claim ID ad6f9ca6

What is the claim?

A screenshot of an article purportedly published by the Indian news agency ANI is doing the rounds on social media to claim farmers protesting in the country are using hi-tech tractors to gain entry into New Delhi. The image in the article shows a fleet of green and blue super-advanced tractors on a highway.

Thousands of farmers in India are currently protesting outside the national capital to demand an increase in crop prices. To stop the protestors who launched a 'Delhi Chalo (Head to Delhi)' march on February 13, massive troops of police and paramilitary personnel have been deployed outside the capital's borders, and several layers of barricades, wires, and nails have been placed at major entry points. 

The purported ANI article is headlined: "Tractors modified to remove barricades, resist tear gas shells will lead Delhi Chalo march by Punjab farmers, intelligence agencies alert police" and is dated February 11. One post on X (formerly Twitter) shared the article's screenshot (archived here) with the caption, "Must find who is funding #FarmerProtest2024 and seize their account." Several other users have also shared the article's image, carrying the photo of the tractor's fleet, with similar claims that can be viewed here, here, here, and here. Several websites also carried the same image of the tractors' convoy in their reports on the farmers' protest. The archived versions of these stories can be viewed here and here.

Screenshots showing the viral posts circulating on social media. (Source: X/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)

However, Logically Facts found that the image of the tractors' fleet circulating with the ANI article is fake and was generated using artificial intelligence.

How did we verify this?

ANI had published an article with the same headline, as seen in the viral screenshot, on February 11; however, the latest version of this article uses a different image. The news agency used an image of cement barricades placed on a road. The article carries no image of tractors. 

On closely looking at the viral image of the tractor's convoy, we noticed several discrepancies. Firstly, the smoke emanating from the first tractor does not arise from the exhaust pipe but runs parallel to it. Secondly, the shape of a vehicle on the other side of the road appears distorted. Thirdly, the logo of the tractor is also distorted and unclear. Such anomalies are commonly present in artificially generated images. 

Image showing the distortions visible in the viral picture. (Source: X/Screenshot)

It is also to be noted that commuters in India usually travel on the left side of any given road. In contrast, the image shows a right-hand driving system, indicating that the picture is not from India.

We also ran the picture through two AI (artificial intelligence) detection tools— 'Hive Moderatin' and 'Is it AI'—to verify its authenticity. While 'Hive Moderation' deduced that the viral picture was "99.4 % likely to be AI generated," 'Is It Ai said, "This image is highly likely to be AI generated."

We also reached out to Prof. Mayank Vatsa of Indian Institute of Technology(IIT)-Jodhpur, who studies image forensics and deep learning models to detect deepfakes, to confirm the veracity of the tractors' image. He told us, "The image is edited and is fake." He pointed out the distortion on the image's left side, which shows a blurred road. He also highlighted that the driver's seat in the viral picture is towards the left side, whereas in India, the driver is seated on the right side of the vehicle. "The driver's position is the takeaway here to point that it is edited and fake," he said.

While, some news outlets, such as India Today and ANI, reported that according to the central intelligence agencies, farmers are modifying their tractors to overcome barricades placed near New Delhi's borders, the image in question is not real, and is AI-generated.

Logically Facts has also published a detailed article on detecting AI-generated images, which can be read here.

The verdict 

Social media users have shared an AI-generated image as part of a report published by ANI to falsely claim that the picture shows the modified tractors being used in the farmers' protest. Therefore, we have marked the claim as fake.

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