'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. shai anderson

    What the hell was she thinkin she must have been on crack or something

    June 8, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • USA#1

      Exactly what I was thinking. Her parents must be so proud of their little freakin' idiot moron daughter. Holy 5hit what an a55!! Good luck finding a job you imbecile.

      June 8, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • :)!!!!!!!!

      Hahaha I know right?!

      June 8, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Yrag

    Off topic perhaps, but the artist doing the faux tattoos is smoking hot.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • The CHoobs

      Thanks for your thoughts on her Congressman Weiner, you can go back to work now.

      June 8, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • MIkeD

      Smoking hot chicks are never off topic

      June 8, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sparty_Rulez

      I agree...she is HOT!

      June 8, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      Maybe you could get a tattoo of your dong, congressman. That way you'll never have to "lose track" of your photos again hahah 🙂 (To clarify, I know that isn't Anthony Weiner, or is it....) Could you imagine, taking a picture of your biceps to show a woman never sounded so promiscuous!

      June 8, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Morris

    Who wouldn't want a tattoo from that bombshell of a woman ! Geez I would get a whole sleeve to spend time with that !

    June 8, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wayne

      And then a lifetime of regret for getting a stupid tattoo.

      June 8, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      talking to women is a much simpler strategy...

      June 8, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. assassannihilator


    June 8, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. redhawk23

    What does this have to do with the Matrix? You mentioned "matrix style" but this has nothing to do with anything from that movie.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      They are just referring to how the pictures were arranged on her arm.

      June 8, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • chiefwiggum1313

      look up the word matrix. it was a word before it was a movie.wow.

      June 8, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. BobZemko

    Gee, a hoax on the internet. The shock of my life.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Scott

    Do you people even read. The CNN comment boards are a breeding ground for the under educated drivel spewing populous of American couch potatoes. You are an embarrassment to the human race. A bunch of Nancy Grace watching cuckoos whose life's drama evolves around Casey Anthony, and you let the whole world know what you think through your daily facebook status updates. You all make me sick!!!

    June 8, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      Pot... meet kettle.

      June 8, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • yeah

      You're right all mighty know it all. We fail and you win. Now go claim your cookie.

      June 8, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • assassannihilator

      If you think this is bad you've never looked at Youtube comments.

      June 8, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Really?

    I was wondering how they made the tatoo look so realistic. I kept thinking it was a transfer, but I almost 'shared' it thinking it was real. I'm glad I didn't.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Fiona

    It's not a "hoax," it's dishonesty. A hoax would be the tattoo artist showing the finished product and saying it was a real tat. But to show her "doing" the tattoo is just crass fakery.

    Anyone who knows tattoos can tell it's a transfer, though.I know a lot of people with elaborate tattoos, full sleeves and backs. There is a depth to a real (well done), full-color tattoo that a transfer doesn't have.

    June 8, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wayne

      I avoid people with tattoo's. They must be brain dead to ink skin with some so called art that always look like crap.

      June 8, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • C Mac Diddy

      "Anyone who knows tattoos can tell it's a transfer..." – then they'll ask for money or food.

      June 8, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. KC

    Lighten up people. It takes all kinds. IF some one were to "REALLY" get a tattoo this crazy, I would applaud them for their sense of humor. Of course they will probably live to regret it but at least I would get a good chuckle out it. Just because you do not approve of something does not mean it should not or can not be done by someone else. Sit back and enjoy stupid stories like these once in awhile.

    June 8, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Riff*Raff

    Thank goodness it's a fake. People with tattoos do realize they are permanent and will still be on they're saggy behind when they're 80 don't they?

    June 8, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Really

    I'm always amazed about how 'excited' and 'offended' and 'personally violated' people feel; when others gets tattoos or earrings or were designer high-end clothing or little wedding hats, that have nothing to do with them. The comments on here are almost as funny as the fact it was a publicity stunt and was never even actually Tattooed. So all these people who got rocked to the core with this woman's own personal, fake, choice, in another country; are gonna have trouble sleeping tonight worrying about the out come of something that Never really happened and has nothing to do with them. Oh Crazy Humans and the Internet, I love you.

    June 8, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  13. dehcated

    In its ever-apparent quest to be the "first" in news, CNN once again has failed to do its research beforehand. Same thing happened yesterday evening with CNN's "Breaking News" report of 20 bodies found on some Texas property. What's the latest word on that story, CNN?

    June 8, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  14. mike

    who cares???

    June 8, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. CNNareYouDumb?

    Apparently CNN is dumb for running this fake. Why didn't they think about how long a tattoo takes, and why the tattoo artist looks super hot and is wearing the same exact clothes the entire time? She would have gone home for the day and changed. This tattoo would have taken several sessions to complete. And that's assuming the girl could withstand the pain of needles in her arm without needing breaks of several days.

    June 8, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
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