Ashton Kutcher may have stepped back from the Hollywood spotlight for a bit, but he’s making a huge comeback… as a humanitarian, among other things. Some famous folks use their celebrity status and visibility to bring light to issues that need attention and, in this case, Ashton has really done something amazing. Ashton has a successful acting career, as well as being an investor in successful companies, like Airbnb, Spotify and Uber.
It’s his involvement in the anti-human trafficking effort that should get all of the attention, however.
In this 2016 interview, Ashton talked to the Today show about his Netflix series The Ranch, but there was also discussion of the organization he founded with his ex-wife Demi Moore in 2008.
The organization, called Thorn, has the following goal: “to build technology to defend children from sexual abuse.” In 2015, Thorn reported that 75 percent of child sex trafficking survivors surveyed noted they were eventually “sold” online.
Asia, a survivor who talked to Thorn during a 2015 study, explained: “People are posted and sold online multiple times a day. As far as the ad that was posted up [for me], there was a girl who eerily looked like me… just [like] you can go find a car, there was a picture, and a description, and a price.”
Ashton explained: “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.”
Armed with this information, Ashton noted that Thorn “built a tool to help law enforcement prioritize their caseload and recover victims and find traffickers.” He added: “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.”
The organization’s website explains:
“We 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 we do.
Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Adobe are listed among the names who are helping Thorn’s cause.”
The organization’s work doesn’t end, however, as Ashton noted: “Our next battle, my next commitment… I’m going to make a pledge that I’m going to eliminate child pornography from the internet.”
Kutcher testified in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in February 2017, where he gave a speech about modern day slavery, saying, in part:
“I’m here today to defend the right to pursue happiness. It’s a simple notion: ‘the right to pursue happiness.’ It’s bestowed upon all of us by our constitution. Every citizen of this country has the right to pursue it. And I believe that it is incumbent on us as citizens of this nation, as Americans, to bestow that right upon others, upon each other, and upon the rest of the world. But the right to pursue happiness for so many is stripped away — it’s raped, it’s abused, it’s taken by force, fraud, or coercion. It is sold for the momentary happiness of another.”