Though perhaps most well-known for his role as Kelso in “That 70’s Show”, movie star Ashton Kutcher is a surprisingly active advocate for fighting against human trafficking and child pornography. In fact, in 2008, he and then-wife Demi Moore founded an organization to support efforts in combating the sex trade, called Thorn. In the years since its founding, a surprising trend has emerged: Most human trafficking is done online.
With the tremendous benefits that the internet has provided for so many people also comes a dark side: Those looking to exploit others’ weakness now have a much more accessible platform from which to do so. Instead of being used as a tool for the benefit of all mankind, human traffickers have turned portions of the Darknet into an online shopping mall for young victims. Here, you may find images of young boys and girls available for sale, disturbingly similar to shopping for a used car.
Kutcher and Moore are taking this problem to heart, and organizing their resources against online human trafficking. By driving innovations in technology, Thorn targets sex traffickers through their advertisements and online resources, leading police and federal agents to the exact locations where arrests can be made and victims freed. With a continually growing database of resources and research to draw on, Thorn is leading the field in helping to save young people who have become the victims of this sort of crime.
Thankfully, all of this work is paying off. “We’ve built a tool to help law enforcement prioritize their caseload and help recover victims and find traffickers. And we’ve found and identified and recovered over 6,000 trafficking victims this year. And we’ve found, identified, and recovered 2,000 traffickers”, said Kutcher in a 2016 interview. But he doesn’t intend to stop there: “Our next battle, my next commitment… I’m going to make a pledge that I’m going to eliminate child pornography from the internet.”
Every day we see more people like Ashton Kutcher stepping up to stand up for those less fortunate. It’s inspiring and humbling, and not without support: Thankfully, Thorn lists such powerful companies as Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo! in their supporters in fighting human trafficking. Considering that Polaris, a sex-trafficking watch group estimates the number of sex workers held against their will at 4.5 million, any help that Kutcher can get is welcome, indeed.