One of the most effective ways to stop online child sexual exploitation is to deter potential perpetrators from engaging in abusive behavior in the first place. While we recognize that not all individuals can be deterred, we do know that it is possible to appeal to a portion of people who recognize their actions are wrong and want to seek help. Our deterrence work aims to reach those people who will respond to online interception and offer them help.

Deterrence Program

Thorn’s deterrence program intercepts people on search engines and in peer-to-peer networks who are looking for child sexual abuse material and instead directs them to help resources.

Our Impact



With the rise of peer-to-peer networks, cloud storage and social networks, sharing child pornography, buying sex and selling children for prostitution have all become much easier. As a result, law enforcement has seen an explosion in the volume of digital content related to the sexual exploitation of children. Thorn supports initiatives that disrupt this behavior and make the Internet a more hostile environment for those who seek to exploit children.

Shared Hash

The Industry Hash Sharing program, developed in 2012, was the first industry-wide tool to improve and accelerate the identification, removal and reporting of child sexual abuse images across different digital networks. The tool gave these networks the ability to share digital fingerprints of abuse images via a cloud-based tool. Thorn developed and launched this tool in an effort to bring together the world’s largest online platforms. This approach was adopted by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 2014.

Our Reach



Our number one priority is to combat the sexual exploitation of children; however, we also recognize the importance of helping victims and survivors get their lives back on track.

Thorn Alerts

When the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) are in pursuit of potentially dangerous individuals, they issue alerts to help apprehend the suspect(s). We aggregate time-sensitive alerts from these law enforcement agencies and NGOs and broadcast them as Thorn Alerts to our community of digital defenders. Using our large network of supporters on social media and email, we are able to send these alerts to hundreds of thousands of individuals who aid in the search and arrest of these potential offenders.

BEFREE Text Shortcode:

In speaking with domestic minor survivors of sex trafficking, we learned that for them, it is often much easier and safer to send a discreet text message for help than it is to make a phone call. In partnership with the Polaris National Human Trafficking Resource Center, Salesforce Foundation and Twilio, we created the BEFREE (233733) text shortcode to give victims a more discreet way to reach out for help while being exploited by a controller.

Our Impact


Thorn/Samasource USA Tech Training

Thorn has partnered with SamaUSA to create a custom curriculum for domestic sex trafficking survivors. The goal of this training is to provide these young adults with the technology skills they will need in order to secure sustainable employment as they rebuild their lives.


Thorn partners with government agencies, NGOs and the world’s largest technology companies in an effort to develop solutions in the fight against the sexual exploitation of children. Furthermore, we conduct independent research to better understand the issue as well as lead awareness efforts to help shine a light on the severity of this problem and engage more people in creating solutions.

Tech Task Force

The Thorn Technology Task Force, founded in 2010, is the largest gathering of technology companies focused on developing new approaches to address child sexual exploitation.

Sound Practices Guide

The Thorn Sound Practices Guide helps companies learn about proven practices and tools that exist to help to identify, remove, report and prevent child sexual abuse content and exploitative behavior on their platforms.

Online Demand Study w/ ASU

We partnered with Arizona State University to measure the demand for sex being sold online nationwide.

Survivor Survey

We conduct an ongoing national survey of child sex trafficking survivors to better understand the role technology played in their recruitment, exploitation and escape. This data informs our programs and the field overall.