A picture of a flower, a New York Aster, is getting 90 million hits per day from India. There is nothing remarkable about the flower yet it is being clicked upon in huge numbers. According to NDTV, the image in question is hosted on Wikimedia Commons, which is an online repository of free-use images, sounds, other media that can be freely used and reproduced. It shows a purple flower that is commonly found in the meadows of northeast America.

The flower is commonly available in India and you could find this in every other park and home, but why are Indians finding it amusing?

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This unusual phenomenon was unearthed by Chris Albon, director of Machine Learning at Wikimedia who took to Twitter to speak about it. He wrote, “How transparent is Wikimedia? Check out this actual, live ticket about an ongoing mystery. 20% of all requests to one of our data centers for media are for this image of a flower. Nobody knows why.”

 

 

Albon shared the link to Phabricator to verify the data. It is a platform that can be accessed by all Wikimedia contributors. The site revealed that this particular picture of the New York aster flower gets about 90 million hits per day from various ISPs in India, all with the same characteristics.

“We’ve noticed today that we get about 90M hits per day from various ISPs in India. These are very strange, as they come from wildly different IPs, follow a daily traffic pattern, so we are hypothesizing there is some mobile app predominantly used in India that hotlinks the above image for e.g. a splash screen. We need to investigate this further as this kind of request constitutes about 20 percent of all requests we get in EQSIN for media,” a post on Phabricator read.

A graph of pageviews reveals that before June 8, the flower got a few hundred views each day. Numbers jumped to 2,154 on June 9, according to Vice. By June 30, the flower image was getting more than 15 million hits daily.

It is noteworthy that the surge in traffic occurred after the TikTok ban in India. TikTok and several other Chinese apps were banned on June 29, 2020.

People investigating the mystery of the purple flower hypothesized that the image was being used by one of the various apps that cropped up after the TikTok ban in India.

Mr Albon later confirmed that the traffic was coming from a popular mobile app in India.

“We noticed that the image/app gained popularity somewhere around the time India blocked Chinese internet services and websites,” reads a statement he shared, according to NDTV. Investigators started downloading and running various applications to see if they could identify the image and managed to find the specific app that was making the request by matching the time when it was opened and the time the image was requested from Wikimedia’s servers.

The name of the app has not been revealed.

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