'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. TypicalNewBreed

    Typical trashy new breed of Western women.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jack

    Too bad the tattoo is fake. Where's the blood? the redness? the swelling? C'mon.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. John

    It'd be funny if all of those 153 people remove her as a friend 🙂

    June 8, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. mt

    only sheeple get tattoos nowadays

    June 8, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. bikramsandhu


    June 8, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Susan

    This is just sad, sad, sad, sad, sad. I can't imagine this is a greal tattoo. The detail is too much and she'd never be able to sit through so much at one time. I have a dragon on my thigh that's 4×4 and it took 8 hours to do – this one would have taken days. She must not have any real friends and is trying to impress her virtual friends. She needs therapy and a hug.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. chet

    I think its a media stunt. Tattoo artist has no visible tattoos and those images are too vivid for one inch photos. During the process, there seems to be no bleeding whatsoever. Don't truss it.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. the_dude

    facebook is for losers

    June 8, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  9. El Guapo

    This is not news...this is retarded...

    June 8, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • i like to play basketball

      were you forced to read it ? why isnt it news ?

      June 8, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. i like to play basketball

    i like it, its cool, dont know why people hate it, and are calling her a moron and other names. why is there is so much hate towards social networks ? i know a lot of people who have portraits of their brother, or parents, or a friend as tattoos. its just because facebook was mentioned, everyone has to hate it...people's responses would be much different if she would have gathered old photographs or something, whatever people will always hate. that tattoo is cool, its different.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jmgone

      @ i like to play basketball. You're missing the point and asking all the wrong questions. My kids "LOVE"

      June 8, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jmgone

      Hit Post by accident.....@ i like to play basketball. You're missing the point and asking all the wrong questions. My kids "LOVE" facebook. Their comments...pretty much with the majority of opinions here that think this is "stupid, ugly, unwise, etc." If somebody got the state of Texas with all the major roads that criss-cross that state on their face, you would see the exact same set of opinions that it is "stupid, ugly, unwise, etc." Bottom line "Uncool"

      June 8, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Art for Art's Sake

    I think it's interesting and cool looking. It's not something I would do, nor do I have any tattoos, but it's a personal artistic expression with some originality. It has an interesting juxtaposition of modern media meets old world skin art. The overall pattern created is also interesting with the great color detail. It's also very different for tattoo art which I feel often lacks originality.

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

    I want her to be my tattoo artist

    June 8, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rethink

    friends' . . . Can I get a copy editor?

    June 8, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jim

    what happens when she is 60? She will look ridiculous.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • jack

      she looks ridiculous now.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Me

    Check out the artist's website (http://www.tattoodex.nl/)
    There is an option for "Try-Out Tattoo"

    June 8, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
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