Julie Cordua is the CEO of Thorn, an organization dedicated to driving technology innovation to fight child sexual exploitation. Joining the organization in 2011, Julie helped create a new strategic direction for its work with a clear focus on exposing the role technology plays in the exploitation of children and identifying impactful ways for technology to be deployed as part of the solution. Today, the organization manages the Thorn Technology Task Force, the largest organization of technology companies committed to fighting child exploitation, and collaborates with NGOs, policy makers, law enforcement and the private sector in its work. Prior to Thorn, Julie ran marketing for (RED). During her time there, she helped raise more than $180 million to fight AIDS in Africa. Julie started her career in wireless technology, including leadership roles at Motorola and HELIO, and holds a B.A. in Communications, with an emphasis in Business Administration, from UCLA and an M.B.A. from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
After nearly disappearing in the 90s, the spread of child sexual abuse material exploded with the rise of the internet, while child sex trafficking increased with exposure to a greater market online. Today, the problem is complex and still growing.63% of victimized kids.The internet has made it too easy for abusers to share child sexual abuse material. They create images and videos with an audience in mind. That content gets shared widely beyond the initial targets – recirculating the image, perpetuating the abuse and retraumatizing the child.Child sex trafficking affects our most vulnerable children. In the US, children in the foster care system are disproportionately at greater risk for exploitation. And in the poorest countries on earth, children in desperate need of basic necessities, like food and shelter, are often especially vulnerable to traffickers
Since 2016, Spotlight has helped law enforcement find kids faster. Our flagship product was developed based on the insights gained from our first survivor survey. Spotlight accelerates victim identification and helps law enforcement make the best use of the critical time they have to focus on finding more child sex trafficking victims.
Thorn was born in 2012. Our co-founders Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore had learned about the issue of child sex trafficking from a documentary highlighting what was happening to children in Cambodia. They describe it as this moment where you learn something about the world that you can’t un-know. As they started learning more, they realized that it is just as prolific of a problem here in the United States as it is overseas.In 2014, after our team prototyped a product to aid in identifying child sex trafficking victims who were sold online, we made the decision to develop the product itself and provide it free to law enforcement. This approach broke open the new model for us — one that moved beyond innovation to include productization and rapid scale, bypassing existing bureaucratic structures that often hamper access, data sharing, and collaboration.
HOW WE DO IT:
We now house the first engineering and data science team focused solely on developing new technologies to combat online child sexual abuse. We bring together a team with deep technical knowledge and subject matter expertise to innovate and deploy new technology solutions at a much faster rate. We are able to quickly assess whether new technologies can be repurposed to protect children from sexual exploitation through one of our three strategic pillars: 1) accelerating victim identification 2) equipping platforms, and 3) empowering the public.