Actor and activist Ashton Kutcher recently appeared on The Today Show to talk with Kathie Lee and Hoda Kotb about the second season of his Netflix original TV series The Ranch, but did a lot of talking about his work to fight human sex trafficking and his desire to end child pornography.
In the video interview above, Kutcher tells Lee and Kotb about the organization he started with his ex-wife Demi Moore in 2008 called Thorn.
“We’re building digital tools to fight human trafficking. Basically, the purchase and commerce for human trafficking is happening online, just like everything else now, and so we’re building digital tools to fight back against it.”
A Cause That Counts
Thorn describes itself as an organization with a mission to drive tech innovation in the fight against trafficking. According to Thorn’s website, their mission is to “partner across the tech industry, government and NGOs and leverage technology to combat predatory behavior, rescue victims, and protect vulnerable children.” The site also lists 20 members of what it calls The Thorn Technology Task Force, comprised of technology companies that lend their knowledge, time and resources to the work that they do. Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Adobe are listed among the names who are helping Thorn’s cause.
“We’ve built a tool to help law enforcement prioritize their caseload, and recover victims and find traffickers,” he says about his organization’s efforts in 2016. “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.”
With the success of his organization in the fight against human trafficking, Kutcher is now setting his sights on a new goal.
“Our next battle, my next commitment … I’m going to make a pledge that I’m going to eliminate child pornography from the internet.”
Watch the organization’s video to better understand what they’re doing, and how they’re fighting child exploitation:
Why This Matters
While sex trafficking is a worldwide issue, what many don’t know is that it is only made worse by pornography. Many trafficking victims are filmed and forced to be on camera, and the result usually ends up online.
Let’s break down the issue.
One of the many problems with the pornography industry is that it’s a constant content machine that is designed to produce increasingly shocking, explicit material. It’s a continual process of trying to one-up last year’s content and make even more uniquely hardcore videos and images that viewers will continue coming back for, again and again. A viewer’s (unconscious) thought process might be, why continue watching the same, boring material when there’s more twisted stuff out there? That escalating content-creating process even incorporates barely-legal teens and scenarios that include incest and “pretend” abuse to young people. There are entire porn websites dedicated to this genre. And think about this: one of the most common scenarios in a porn scene across the web is a young female getting taken advantage of by an older male.
Here’s the reality of what happens: as viewers get desensitized to this type of material, they will continue to seek out more shocking and taboo content…even if that content is an actual underage person being taken advantage of. Someone in search of harder content might start to incorporate the word “real” in their searches, like “real abuse” or “real rape.” And like many stories we’ve received from those who struggle, they might start to look for the youngest-looking teen to fulfill their desires…and eventually end up looking at illegal child exploitation content.
This is exactly the behavior that the industry fuels. And this happens much, much more than society would like to believe, and THIS is why we fight against the porn industry as a whole. Are you with us?
We support the efforts of Thorn and the many other organizations that are making a real difference in the fight to end sexual exploitation in all its forms. Sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation has become a global industry that affects the lives of millions of people—men and women, boys and girls.