In an online-only version of Details, the “Two and a Half Men” star champions a number of new media companies without mentioning he’s an investor in several of them
Before landing his "Two and a Half Men" gig, Ashton Kutcher the actor had taken a backseat to Ashton Kutcher the social media entrepreneur. That is one reason why Details snagged him to guest edit an online-only version of the magazine that it dubbed "The Social Issue."
Kutcher was a logical choice, given his massive Twitter following and overall popularity, but it seems his lack of a real media background may cause Details some headachers.
In the issue, Kutcher champions a bevy of media companies but fails to point out that he is an investor in many of them. That is a clear conflict of interest, one that the New York Times' Nick Bilton looked into.
Bilton called the Federal Trade Commission and found out that this is grounds for an investigation. What's more, if any of the companies Kutcher promotes in the issue soon has a stock offering, the Securities and Exchange Commission could get involved, as well.
Needless to say, this is one of the problems when you give a celebrity-turned-investor control over editorial content in a magazine issue about business, but this could have been avoided if Kutcher just disclosed the information.
It might also get ignored faster if either Kutcher or Details admits any wrongdoing, but surprisingly Details editor Dan Peres defended the lack of disclosure. He said the following in a statement:
"If you read Ashton’s editors letter, you’ll see he succeeded in his mission to get people to talk about and even criticize this social issue. I stand by how we communicated Ashton’s involvement with some of the companies included in our coverage and remain extremely proud of the work we did on this project.”
He and Kutcher better hope that the FTC and SEC see it the same way.