Read the full article by Violet Blue at EndGadget.com

 

Silicon Valley’s biggest companies have partnered with a single organization to fight sex trafficking — one that maintains a data collection pipeline, is partnered with Palantir, and helps law enforcement profile and track sex workers without their consent. Major websites like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and others are working with a nonprofit called Thorn(“digital defenders of children”) and, perhaps predictably, its methods are dubious.

Thorn offers internet companies its content moderation tool “Safer,” and for law enforcement, its separate data-mining and user-profiling tool “Spotlight.” Both use data sources and AI to automate policing of sex content. Of Thorn’s 31 nonprofit partners, 27 target adults and vow to abolish consensual sex work under the banner of saving children from sex trafficking.

“With our work on child sex trafficking, we recognize that this crime often presents itself within the broader field of sex work which does include consensual adult sex work,” Thorn CEO Julie Cordua told Engadget via email. “We also realize that the reasons why people have sex for money are complex and varied. This is a complex field with a lot of nuance. Our programs are designed specifically to channel very limited resources on the recovery of children who are being exploited through sex trafficking, not on consenting adults.”

Before Engadget reached Thorn for comment on this article, its website listed partnerships with data dealers, web scrapers and identity brokers including Connotate, Trusona, Trade Desk, Laxdaela, and 41st Parameter(Experian). When asked about Thorn’s relationships with the now-removed partners, Cordua told Engadget that our queries reminded Thorn its “Partnerships” page “is outdated.”