FTC doesn't think Ashton Kutcher is half a man

New star of "Two and a Half Men" guest-edits Details magazine and fails to disclose his own investments in many of the tech companies profiled. FTC says--on Twitter--that it will not pursue him.

I don't know about this guest-editing thing. Do magazines get famous people to agree to guest-edit, then actually edit the issue themselves and simply invite the guest for lunch?

If that was the case, it would have made things a touch easier for Ashton Kutcher when he guest-edited the September edition of Details magazine.

This was an online-only edition, dubbed "the Social Issue." However, it soon became something of a business issue.

You see, the new star of "Two and a Half Men" was accused of featuring more than a dozen tech companies in this issue, without mentioning that he himself had partaken of their share issue.

The New York Times immediately picked up the phone to the FTC and said: "Yo, Commish, isn't this against your rules?"

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Initially, the FTC told the Times that this was, indeed, something of a problem. Richard Cleland of the FTC said: "If you're out there promoting individual products that you have a specific investment in, it needs to be disclosed."

It seems, though, that Cleland's view may have been superseded by a higher power: the FTC's Twitter account.

For it declared most clearly: "The FTC is not and has no plans to investigate Ashton Kutcher--Bureau of Consumer Protection Director David Vladeck @aplusk."

Aplusk himself has not yet used his higher power on Twitter to comment on the proceedings. The New York Times, though, got back on the phone to the FTC to find out what gives.

The only comment it seemed to be able to muster was this from Richard Kaplan, deputy public affairs director: "Richard Cleland misspoke."

Some might wonder whether the SEC might have also commented on this tale. So I went straight to its Twitter account. There appears to be no comment on it so far.

Many will therefore enjoy surmising why the FTC deemed no action was necessary. Perhaps it decided that there was no obvious direct endorsement of the companies. Perhaps it decided that an online edition of Details magazine wouldn't be taken seriously by anybody.

Or perhaps it appreciated the headline on the front cover of the magazine that described Kutcher as "Silicon Valley's secret weapon."

 

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