'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. bob

    the Netherlands? i would think something this stupid could only be thought up here in the USA.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mj

    What a loser!

    June 8, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. SpecialPlace

    She says " It's a personal expression of who I am right now in this part of my life and the mediaworld we live in". It's an awful big decision to tattoo your whole arm to express who you are "In this part of my life". What about in the next part of her life, 10 years from now? 20? I applaud her for her boldness, but I also have to wonder if she will regret it in 10 or 15 years.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ed Sr

      She will have poison coursing through her veins in the near distant future..........if it were my daughter I would disown her and change my name...............how creepy can youth today get?

      June 8, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. stargazer

    Fact check, CNN. http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2011/06/facebook_friends_tattoo_is_an.php. If you can't get a fluff story right, how do we know you're trying on substantive stories?

    June 8, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • SpecialPlace

      That's VERY interesting! I wonder if CNN found out yet or not...

      June 8, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ted

    amazing what stupid stuff people spend their money on. But then I just don't understand tattooing stuff on oneself.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ed Sr

      Only white....black....and brown....Aborigines do it!..........................we are going back to the jungle..........grab your loin cloth and your spear and lets go hunting for lion...............yum....yum

      June 8, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. DTresh

    I am all for people being themselves, but this is just lame! Obsessing with social networking is going to kill society. I was really hoping that social networking would be a fad. This society is becoming really pathetic and wimpy.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Petrus

    there's nothing funny about bipolar disorder. Shame on you CNN for giving her additional attention and feeding in to it. She needs help.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mary Stevens

    "Here's your Sign"...

    June 8, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ani

    I think it looks great and interesting. Not something I would do, though.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Marc

    The woman's an idiot.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. gosse westra

    This is a fake tatto is only a test picture put on her arm see here http://www.urlsh.it/xB4CgQ

    June 8, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. phil

    Ha, I knew it was fake, that is far too detailed to be a real tattoo.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ugh

    Going back to the trailer park roots, I see. Nasty.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. cxd

    So stupid. Unreal

    June 8, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. pSMW

    I would never do it, but its cool. Great job by the tattoo artist.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
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