'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. Cameron

    I wonder what she'll do when facebook is no longer the #1 social media. will see tattoo Twitter on her other arm?

    June 8, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. James Folkert

    Advertising stunt : http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2011/06/facebook_friends_tattoo_is_an.php

    CNN got duped. Before posting "news", check your facts. This is some bad journalism.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • WSJ

      Got to love it.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ummyeah

    they seem fake?

    June 8, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. C Mac Diddy

    Just another mindless fad-following drone (hipster) starving for attention... which would be why she posted it on YouTube and CNN is running it. Many of these people claim to be artists or 'expressing' themselves, but they really only yearn for the artist lifestyle and the attention it brings... not any sort of art itself.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • greebo

      The artist's lifestyle? What, ramen soup, and waiting tables?

      June 8, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • C Mac Diddy

      Pretty much... the 'look at me, I'm a starving artist' lifestyle... yet most have no/amateurish artistic ability, collect money from their parents and buy tattoos.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Marv

    dumb dumb

    June 8, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. kk

    this is not real. if you watch this video you can tell. there is no way she can create that much detail without being up close on that arm. not to mention, as small as those photos are, you lose that detail over time , so any reputable artist wouldnt do it. also, her arm is not welting up at all or even red. AND the woman doing it has no tattoos.... would you want to get elaborate work done by a woman, nonetheless, a woman who doesn't have any work done herself?!

    June 8, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. James Folkert

    fake: http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2011/06/facebook_friends_tattoo_is_an.php

    June 8, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Revvell

    Operative words... "... To me it represents who I am right now." I'm thinking she probably wont be there a few years from now yet, it's her body!

    June 8, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. James Folkert

    The Dutch girl’s sleeve tattoo featuring 152 Facebook friends is a fake, the Telegraaf reported on Wednesday evening.
    The girl, named SusyJ87, apparently placed a video of the tattoo process on YouTube and it went global within days. Even CNN carried the video on its site.

    However, Rotterdam tattoo artist Dex Moelker eventually came clean on the Telegraaf website, admitting the tattoo and video is an advertising stunt. The ink is in fact a try-out tattoo that can be washed off within a couple of days and took two hours to apply.

    The video credits also thank a local Dutch firm which specialises in making gifts out of Facebook profile pictures.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Zjoske

    On dutch radio there was an interview with the tattoo artist, she said it was not a real tattoo but a 'try-out' tattoo, its all a hoax.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. simp

    cool idea, creepy arm

    June 8, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Anthony

    Please list the first word thats comes to mind...........mine.....Sad

    June 8, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. BobbyBrick

    Fantastic artwork. Would I do it...no way, but at least it's something with meaning to her. No like some morons I know who get these Chinese characters tattooed on them when they aren't Chinese and don't know the language, but it has some deep spiritual meaning to them.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. king james

    yeah im sure she has 152 close friends.. what a tool

    June 8, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. rizztex

    'unfriend'

    June 8, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • ep45care

      where are the one's she dosen't like at ???

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