'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. MSfromCA

    No paid reporters, instant free international publication, and mainstream media reports whatever is hot on the social sites. Welcome to our brave new world.

    June 8, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Lanfear

    I bet Facebook recieved more publicity than anyone.

    June 8, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Incogneato

    Publicity stunt. Really? (aka 'no sh/t?')

    June 8, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Chicago Nick

    Anyone who believed this to begin with is a moron and that includes the editors at CNN and every other so called MEDIA dump who fell for this tattoo gag.....news creating ho's....

    June 8, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. banasy

    This is the most ignorant story I've perused in a long time. I'd rather read Casey's Tawdry Tales Of Conquest, any day!

    June 8, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Incogneato

    I agree banasy. Didn't glean a goll darn thing myself now that you mention it. And I like the adventures of Casey as well. Especially how they found out it was her grandma's boogers stuck in the pages of her diary. Forensics are truly amazing when applied. (but raise a few eyebrows when not i suppose)

    June 8, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Hoping I don't offend anybody, I'm going to say that I can't imagine marring my body with a tattoo.

    June 8, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Linda Rella

    But what if her friends change their profile pictures?

    June 8, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Philip

    I alway's wanted to kick Tatoo for some reason. Maybe it was Ricardo Mantalban's Chrysler Corthdohhhvah. Then again, maybe not.

    June 8, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. banasy

    @Incognito: silly GTG!

    @JIF: I'm not offended in the least; I have two small ones, both as a tribute to my son.
    One is a small red heart with his initials on the top of my left wrist; it's mostly hidden under my watch, but every time I look at my watch, I am reminded that he watches over our family.
    The other one is the Japanese symbol for "son"; it's under the back of mt neck between my shoulder blades.

    I don't consider them marring my skin; I consider them a living symbol of my love for him.

    But a pretend "facebook friends" tattoo is just...

    June 8, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. banasy

    With the "rich Corinthian leather?"

    June 8, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    @ banasy:
    Yours represent something beautiful. You moved me.
    But when people do this tattoo stuff to be with-it and like, uh, cool, it's ugly.

    June 8, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Alouitious

    Apparently nobody at CNN has ever gotten a tattoo. There's quite a bit of blood and scabbing involved. That should have been obvious in the "in progress" part of the video. That alone is a dead giveaway that it was fake.

    June 8, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. The Cog

    I already called dibbs on Tatoo. And yeah, that rthrthrthreeeetch Coreinnnthiun leather. I barfed. You?

    June 8, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mrs. Wiener

    Why don't you just tattoo my unborn child? Needle freaks. His dad's a pervert! Be damned if I'll brand my ass to advertise it! But I kinda like rosey tattoos on ankles. Wrists? Too wristy for me. Plus i got a bun in the oven.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
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