The Real-Time Fight to Defend Children From Sexual Abuse

The internet is an endless source of information. There are over 127 million websites available to anyone with a computer or mobile device, and the spread of information happens instantly. 

Yet for all the good, helpful data the internet provides, there’s also a dark side to it. And as digital technologies proliferate and continue to evolve, so have these dark corners of the web — targeting the most vulnerable members of our society: children. 

Ashton Kutcher learned about child sex trafficking from a documentary highlighting what was happening to children in Cambodia. Yet as he started to research the issue more, he realized it’s as much of a problem in the United States as it is overseas. 

Inspired to take on the issue and encouraged by his investments in technology, Kutcher co-founded Thorn in 2012 with a steadfast mission: to build technology to defend children from sexual abuse.

Children victims identified by Thorn

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Agencies using Thorn

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Reduction in investigation time in 2022

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made-on-single-store-a-real-time-ai-based-response-to-a-growing-epidemicMade on SingleStore: A real-time, AI-based response to a growing epidemic

As Thorn gained momentum, a common thread emerged among professionals working in the field: The response to this epidemic has to be equal to that of its epicenter — one that harnesses the power of data to take the fight directly to traffickers and distributed materials. Technology has played a significant role in extending the crime, but it’s time it plays an even more significant part in its solution. 

With this focus on technology to combat child sexual abuse, a new sphere emerged: mobilizing real-time technology to accelerate victim identification, equipping platforms and empowering parents and the public. 

Driven by equal parts technological expertise and passion, Thorn needed a partner that understood real time means right now — even two seconds is too late. Together, SingleStore and Thorn have accelerated the image recognition workflow used to find victims of abuse and sexual exploitation.

In the early days of Thorn, matching vectors required extensive pre-processing via a custom solution — something that took too long, and only delayed victim identification. By partnering and building more features with SingleStore, new vectors can be inserted and queried in real time. The result? Faster response times for law enforcement to act, and more children saved every day. 

thorn-single-store-building-a-safe-future-for-children-around-the-worldThorn + SingleStore: Building a safe future for children around the world

In a constantly shifting digital environment, Thorn needs to keep their technology agile, tapping into the power of modern, real-time data to equip law enforcement and ensure children are quickly identified and saved. As data becomes more ubiquitous and available, so does Thorn’s effectiveness.

By using fast, scalable and unified technology made on SingleStore for over a decade, Thorn assists law enforcement in identifying and defending children from sexual abuse — and to this day, continues to develop and deploy smart tools that combat harmful materials.