'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. sam bam

    i dont think this is real... nice trick though! She's probably convinced someone to really do it somewhere in the world. Maybe I'll get my best friend's face tattooed on mine!!! Then they'll really like me yesssssssss

    June 8, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Chris

    "I got their permission"? As if you need it. It's your body. Do what you want to it. Wait, some Republican is steaming right now.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Protector954

      We don't care what women do to their own bodies. We do, however, care what they do with the bodies of their yet-to-be born children. Big difference.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Honestly..

    It's fake? Okay good I was beginning to wonder what she would do if one of those friends de-freinded her off from facebook.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Geezer

    I'm so glad I read this. It improved my life and my knowledge base.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ArchieBanker

    As real as Facebook is social

    June 8, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Pliny

    She combined two FADS.

    And in a year or two....when both Facebook and tattoos are considered sheer stupidity...she'll always have a reminder of her poor decision.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dilly Bar

      tattoos and facebook already ARE considered sheer stupidity

      June 8, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dilly Bar

      LOL...she did it to get her 15 minutes of fame...and they don't even show her face! The tattoo artist on the other hand is hot!

      June 8, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sodapophead

      Facebook is a Fad and already stupid, some people think tattoo's are stupid, but it's not a fad, tattoo's have been around since caveman days.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DoubleTap

    another fine example of life on earth as we know it evaporating...this is beautiful man

    June 8, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • HugoStiglitz

      the best part is Double, these are the voters that will shape our future. yay!

      June 8, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. me


    June 8, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. HugoStiglitz

    wow. good luck with that. let me know how you feel about it in a few years.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  10. fake tat

    this tattoo is a fake

    June 8, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. you

    Another fine news worthy article by CNN

    June 8, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. elections are rigged

    dumb b_tches getting dumber.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. hawkeye

    Do I like it? No, not that it matters anyway.
    But, if it is real, it's some pretty impressive work. I've seen some pretty terrible portraits (and only a handful of good ones). The amount of time and color that would have to go into that alone is astonishing.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MannyMota

    What a lune. She must be great in bed.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. DH

    Not something I personally would do. But it is a nice tattoo if it is real. And if she ever unfriends any of them she can just black em' out.. =)

    June 8, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • momomiester

      Does anyone have the heart to tell her half of those "friends" are just spam?

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