'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. LBW

    This is what happens when you stop off at a Hash House before going to the tattoo parlor. Lucky Dutch.

    June 8, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nigel Powers

      There's just two things in this world that I can't stand. People who are intolerant of other people's cultures... and the Dutch.

      June 8, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. C Mac Diddy

    It's. Not. a. real. story... c'mon people, lets start reading some other comments before making yourself look as foolish as CNN:


    June 8, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Conic

      What a coincidence. These aren't real comments.

      June 8, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sean

    The whole weirdness part aside, i have to say from the video that does look like impressive artwork

    June 8, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • C Mac Diddy

      Perhaps because it's not real? It was a promotional stunt, not a real tattoo:


      June 8, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sean Timmons


    Just helping you out C Mac...

    June 8, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Cesar The Chorizo Champ Of Chihuahua

    It ain't real. NEXT!

    June 8, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. pianoman Drex

    They have to be on that stuff again WOW

    June 8, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. mickey

    wow no life level just doubled!

    June 8, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mike

    lol the rebecca black reference brought up some horrible memories.

    June 8, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dr. Bombay

    Hype the Hype !!

    June 8, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. elections are rigged

    ballon boy of tats and FB

    June 8, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. C Mac Diddy

    Hear, hear!

    June 8, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. STFDoor

    I did not call this as a total hoax, but I did immediately notice that the tattoos looked way too detailed- too much like a print out of photo )which is what it is). If an artist were talented enough to pull off that kind of detail in a tattoo, they would not need a publicity stunt

    June 8, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mel

    Then why are you reading it?? Go to the Faux News website instead!

    June 8, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ZoieeTatstic

    If you have ever gotten a tatto you could tell it was fake!! No sigh of blood or the slightest bit of swelling.. & it wouldn't look that good a week later.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. dutspup

    too bad, was a cool tat

    June 8, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
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