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Saturday, 20 August 2011

Did Ashton Kutcher Break the Law as 'Details' Guest Editor?


TechCrunch Disrupt New York May 2011 - Day 2Ashton Kutcher attends TechCrunch Disrupt New York May 2011 at Pier 94 on May 24, 2011 in New York City. (Getty Images)Ashton Kutcher (Getty Images) Producer, Charlie Sheen successor, innovative businessman, and Nikon camera model Ashton Kutcher may be adding "law-bending magazine editor" to his resume. When the actor served as guest editor of an online-only version of Details this month, he failed to disclose his investments in Internet companies the magazine profiled. It could put him in the legal dog house.

Richard Cleland, an advertising practices director at the Federal Trade Commission, told The New York Times: “If you’re out there promoting individual products that you have a specific investment in, it needs to be disclosed. If you have a significant economic investment that is not otherwise apparent, that may potentially affect the credibility of your endorsement, and I see that as a potential problem.”

Enough of the stiff jargon: In other words, a law was passed in 2009 that requires online writers reveal connections to businesses they write about. And aside from a mere mention that Kutcher “puts his money where his mouth is, backing many of the companies he champions here," he skipped details like his "significant investment"  in travel site Airbnb or his early investment in online magazine Flipboard.

The series of profiles called "The New Titans of Tech" highlighted three hot start-ups: Airbnb, Foursquare, and Flipboard, but didn't mention Kutcher's part-ownership in any of them. (He hasn't thrown money at the fourth, Quora, but is an avid user of the question-answer blog.)

Kutcher's people declined to comment.

What do you think? Was Ashton Kutcher simply celebrating cool businesses or did he exploit his guest editorship for promotional clout?

Update: Looks like he got off easy this time. The Federal Trade Commission tweeted Friday: “The F.T.C. is not and has no plans to investigate Ashton Kutcher.”

More Ashton Kutcher photos:
  • Ashton Kutcher in TechCrunch Disrupt New York May 2011 - Day 2

  • Ashton Kutcher in TechCrunch Disrupt New York May 2011 - Day 2

  • Ashton Kutcher in TechCrunch Disrupt New York May 2011 - Day 2

  • Ashton Kutcher in TechCrunch Disrupt New York May 2011 - Day 2

  • Ashton Kutcher in TechCrunch Disrupt New York May 2011 - Day 2

  • Ashton Kutcher in TechCrunch Disrupt New York May 2011 - Day 2

  • Ashton Kutcher in TechCrunch Disrupt New York May 2011 - Day 2

  • Ashton Kutcher in TechCrunch Disrupt New York May 2011 - Day 2


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