'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. Sartre

    I am now sure that we live on an ADD planet!

    If anyone has 152 people that they "care about most," I would suspect that they do NOT really know what a close interpersonal relationship is... Yucking it up with some one on an internet social site, Facebook or any other social site, is really NOT the place you want to go to find a close friend to care about.

    I would suspect the poor, lost gal is very young, probably under 20, and very, very lonely...

    June 8, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • mot

      I find it sad that someone thinks so much of these 152 people that they call them "friends" in the first place,.. however if she is that close to that many online,.. she is probably not close to anyone in reality. I would much rather have 1-2 real friends than a million to talk to online,...

      June 8, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • dakotaj

      I think this is an interesting way to have the people that mean the most to you through life near you. It could be relatives who live far away or have passed, friends who you may not run into that often due to different paths in life, etc. We shouldn't judge what makes a person feel close to someone else. And hey, this is not the worst thing anyone has ever tattooed on their arm.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • jim

      @dakota, when you use your God-given heart and soul to remember the ones you love, you don't need to resort to any kind of self-deceiption and stupidity like this.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ziltoid

    It must suck when one of them changes their profile pic or de-friends this moron.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Greetje

    It's FAKE. Only a Dutch joke 🙂


    June 8, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ziltoid

      WOW!! Way to research your stories CNN....hahahaaa...Thanks Greetje for the truth! CNN=FAIL!!! LMAO!!

      June 8, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • marianne

      nice going cnn, you just published a hoax as a news story! 😀

      June 8, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Arne

    Other than the oxymoron of having 152 'close' friends....it is her arm, who cares. Because you don't agree doesn't make her an idiot.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • mot

      nope,.. pretty sure it makes her an idiot,... cannot wait until facebook is no longer relevant, she no longer speaks with those "friends", and the people who wouldn't touch her with a 10' pole now,.... many find overuse of tatoos (especially those that are this tacky),... just a huge turnoff,...

      June 8, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dom

      Um, it might not make her an idiot, but I think she is an idiot.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tripp

      Yes it does. Sort of like beleiving in an invisible god. Tattoo's are, IMO, a self induced stupidity mark. Not only do they look stupid, but they look like they were drawn by a bored 5th grader during math class.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      Agreed Mot

      June 8, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • jaime from charlotte, nc

      she's an idiot

      June 8, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Doomguy

    This just validates the old saying, "Stupid is a stupid does"

    June 8, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • jim

      that 'old saying' came out in 1994 with Forrest Gump. I guess you probably think Benjamin Franklin thought life was like a box of chocolates, huh!?

      I agree with you though. This is both stupid and sad. What the hell is wrong with people today?

      June 8, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Travis

    Travis Liked This! LOL

    June 8, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JohnnyJett & The Dirty Socks

    A girl gets a temporary tattoo, and this makes news, CNN reporter should have done hi/her homework. Maybe I will get a temporary tattoo of A.C. on my ass, that might make news too!!

    June 8, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. MarbleChameleon

    Forever Alone..

    June 8, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rizengrom

    Next move is: tattoo of her Boyfriends face on her own...

    June 8, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Andulamb

    I don't mind the tattoo, although I generally think all tattoos are dumb. What's bothers me is that she and others think it's possible to have 150 close friends. Sorry, but you can't.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jo

    My first thought was, god forbid, she'd be easy to identify.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Natural Selection

    I long for the days long past where the neighboring tribe or the lions removed these types from the gene pool.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • dakotaj

      So, are you talking about mass genocide, and brutal torture and killings of slaves/"insert hated peoples of a certain time period here"? Why do you care? You chose to read this article all the way through. If you had stopped your naivety would still be intact. Bummer for you...

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

    So CNN just goes to youtube, finds a pseudo-interesting video, and declares it news.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Brett

    What a stooge. Wait until she grows up and wants a career. Options now officially limited.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • George

      I was thinking the same thing. I wouldn't hire her to wash dishes, change sheets or mop floors. Another future welfare recipient. Or more probably a current welfare recipient.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • dakotaj

      @George: There is no welfare in the Netherlands. And what makes you think that she is automatically applying or currently employed at a 9-5 office job? there is more to office life than a cubicle.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. BOoCNn

    Fake. Remove this story, CNN. yr on par with The Globe at this point.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
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