'Tattoo' of 152 Facebook friends a publicity stunt
A YouTube user from the Netherlands posted a YouTube video showing off her finished tattoo of her close friends on Facebook.
June 8th, 2011
01:59 PM ET

'Tattoo' of 152 Facebook friends a publicity stunt

[Updated at 1:59 p.m] When you want to get your name out there - sometimes you've got to come up with clever ways to do it.

That's something Rotterdam tattoo artist Dex Moelker and his company clearly hoped for when they were named as the ones who inked the Facebook tattoo requested by a Dutch woman of 152 of her Facebook friends. And boy, did it work. The story spread like a wildfire online. After newspapers and major online outlets, including CNN.com, put the story out - it was a hot-button topic. Ironically, as of this moment more than 7,000 people recommended this story on Facebook - perhaps in part because they thought it was ridiculous. And it turns out, that's just what it was.

The tattoo that sparked the Web frenzy isn't real. First off, I think a few people can give a sigh of relief that it isn't real. And we haven't really gone that far off the social media deep end to where our Facebook walls are displayed "Matrix"-style on our arms. As we said before, it wouldn't have been the first time someone tried to capture fame by using a social network site to name their kid or to get a tattoo. In this case it was all about publicity.

Moelker just came clean to the Dutch newspaper the Telegraaf, saying it was in fact a publicity stunt. The woman in the video didn't have the tattoo inked during a 30-hour period as the video claimed.

"It is a try out tattoo, a transfer, that washes off in a couple of days," he told them.

Phew. It may take some scrubbing to get it off, but I guess on the bright side that's all it will take. When it comes to viral videos, you never know what you're going to get (I'm looking at you, Rebecca Black. I still don't get if that song is real). But ironically, in this case, the ink shop got just what it wanted - a lot of free press. Hats off for an international viral campaign. It's not great when media outlets worldwide are duped by viral videos or stories - but if you're looking at it from a marketing perspective - you've got to "like" how well they pulled it off.

[Original blog posted at 11:24 a.m.] There are some people who "like" Facebook. And then there are people who are so devoted to their social media circle that they'll find some pretty extravagant ways to show it.

Mark down one woman in the Netherlands in the latter category. She's literally armed herself with the power of Facebook - in the form of a tattoo sleeve of her friends on Facebook.

Let's get the obligatory jokes out of the way: "What if someone unfriends her?" "Can I dislike this entire idea?" "I hope she saved the rest of her money for laser removal when she starts not to like these people." "Forget the new facial recognition technology Facebook just announced - she can look at her arm."

But this woman - who is gaining quite a bit of fame by posting a video last week on her "susyj87" YouTube account showing the process and her final tattoo of her 152 closest friends - said the tat wasn't about making a splash.

"My tattoo is not about up-to-date profile pics or fame (as you can see I want to stay anonymous)," she said to critics on her YouTube page. "These are the people closest to me (not all my facebook friends). It's a personal expression of who I am right now in this part of my life and the mediaworld we live in. And of course I love the way it looks. I understand if you wouldn't do this, I respect that. But to me it does have a lot of meaning."

Personally, we hope she really, really, really likes these friends. Or she's going to have a heck of a time getting those off - with a trip to have one laser-removed any time she has a really bad spat with a friend.

She says the ink was a way to embody, literally, the social media world we are immersed in.

"Of course I gave it a lot of thought. These are not all my friends. Just the people I care most about," she wrote. "I got their permission and they were very proud to be on it. To me it represents who I am right now and the time we live in. And of course I love the looks of it."

She's not the first one to use social media platforms in an over-the-top way. In fact, many folks on the Web who have seen this tattoo are remembering artist T-Pain, whose "You don't have to 'like' me" tattoo was pictured on CNET. Or perhaps you remember the man in Egypt who reportedly named his newborn daughter "Facebook" in honor of the role the social media network played in bringing about a revolution. Or the Israeli parents who named their child "like." Then there was the guy that Mashable wrote about a few years ago, who was trying to sell Ray-Bans by tattooing a pair of the shades on his face.

At least our newly tattooed Facebook woman adhered to some standards. Mashable points out she's stayed close to "Dunbar's number" - the "cognitive limit" of people you can be friends with, including real life and Facebook.

And hey, art is art, right? But you know what else art is - subjective. And it's apparent the same social media circles she drew inspiration from for her mosaic-style Facebook ink feel strongly about whether it's a cool, personal idea, or the most ridiculous thing on the planet.

soundoff (340 Responses)
  1. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Too few friends.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  2. John

    They should have called this article "Woman is Dumb".

    June 8, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  3. chris

    wow........it's gonna SU(K when they de-friend her........or when she gets old........what a STUPID idea!

    June 8, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  4. Adam

    What happens when her friends change their profile picture. What a moron.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  5. john patros

    Thats is simply disgusting ! She ruined her skin ! and also…. that tattoo is awful

    June 8, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  6. bobcat2u

    The epitomy of stupidity. Said it all right here.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  7. €Engleberthumperdink¥£

    @ACP: And then?

    June 8, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  8. Casey'sTawdryTalesOfConquest

    If she goes elbow deep into me then I can have 152 people inside me at once.. Omg..

    June 8, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  9. joe

    It's new and original... I approve. At least it's not a butterfly/dragon/skull/chain wire

    June 8, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Matthew

    So when her friends change their Facebook picture, does she need to have the corresponding tattoo removed and replace it with the new pic? Cause that would get pretty expensive!

    June 8, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cuso

      I was wondering the same thing.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John

    What a donkey....

    June 8, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  12. DawnInTexas

    Her arm, her business.
    But this is my point: "To me it represents who I am right now"
    Who I am Right Now. She does realize that this doesn't wash off, right?

    June 8, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Casey'sTawdryTalesOfConquest

      @Dawn: Of course it's her business, but it's on CNN, so we have the right to call her an idiot. When I had FB or MySpace I rarely had the same friends week in or week out. Lol This idea is dumb.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      normally you would be right... except that it DOES wash off.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Sarah

    This is fake. Not only because it's been reported as fake but also because it's been reported once as a guy doing it and now apparantly it's a woman who's done it.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jake

      So youre saying that another person couldn't have done this?

      June 8, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. greg

    I would never do it but it does look pretty awesome.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jmgone

      Would love to hear from her in 10 and 20 years from now and see how she feels then at "that" stage of her life. Life changes, tattoos are almost permanent due to laser technology but skin will NEVER be the same.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Peter

    So many negative comments! I actually think what she has done looks great and has real meaning.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe Cox

      I know. Who gives a sh!t. To each their own. I wouldn't do it, but if it makes her happy cool. get SOME!

      June 8, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      Until she has 153 facebook friends.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lanfear

      Why doesn't she get Mark Zuckerbergs autograph tattooed on her arm while she's at it.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kallen

      What a waste of money and time.. She doesn't want recognition for it.. bull. She made it on the CNN news page.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry

      I agree completely. To each his own. Personally, I wouldn't do it, but I do think it looks really cool!

      June 8, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
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