It’s no secret that Ashton Kutcher is an outgoing guy, but his self-described “day job” often goes unnoticed. The television and movie star is the chairman and co-founder of Thorn, a non-profit dedicated to defending children from sexual abuse.
Along with Demi Moore, Kutcher established Thorn to develop software that assists law enforcement in the fight against human trafficking. According to the organization’s self-published 2017 impact report, “law enforcement and investigators have been able to identify 5,791 child sex trafficking victims and rescue 103 children from situations where their sexual abuse was recorded and distributed.”
This monumental success is backed by the Technology Task Force, a conglomerate of tech companies which helped develop the necessary software. The Task Force, made up of companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, has grown over the years to include a total of 20 international non-governmental organizations and 40 tech firms of varying sizes.
The trail hasn’t always been clear. In a February 2017 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, an emotional Kutcher told of a disturbing video he saw in his newfound role.
“I’ve seen video content of a child that’s the same age as mine being raped by an American man who was a sex tourist in Cambodia, and this child was so conditioned by her environment that she thought she was engaging in play,” he said.
He went on to detail the issue in a way many people could understand, telling the committee, “I’ve been on the other end of a phone call from my team, asking for my help because we had received a call from the Department of Homeland Security, telling us that a 7-year-old girl was being sexually abused and that content was being spread around the dark web and she had been being abused and they’d watched her for three years, and they could not find the perpetrator, asking us for help. We were thPoste last line of defense – an actor and his foundation were the potential last line of defense.”
But he hasn’t given up. In addition to his work on the human trafficking front, Kutcher has set out to build companies with inclusive workplaces. While his intentions are good, the execution isn’t always the greatest.
Kutcher isn’t afraid to admit his shortcomings, and strives to learn about the issues. Following a July 2017 Facebook Live Q&A that resulted in heavy criticism, he set out to reframe work issues in a manner he felt consistent with an all-inclusive environment. But unlike other male businessmen, the former That 70’s Show actor left the discussion open by asking, “Are these the right questions?”
The question struck a chord and has influenced his perception in the public sphere. In the end, he knows the work Thorn does is important and will come to be a definitive part of his career.
“You can roll up your sleeves and go try to be like a hero and go save one person, or you can build a tool that allows one person to save a lot of people.”
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