Facebook is among the major Internet companies involved in talks with Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children, a Los Angeles-based organization started by Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore to combat child sex trafficking, child pornography, and sexual exploitation of children.
U.K. newspaper The Times reported that Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Twitter, and at least three other companies are in discussions with Thorn with the aim of creating a database of the “worst of the worst” images, to be maintained by Thorn. The goal is to create a single database, rather than the current scenario, where each company has its own methods for dealing with the issue.
According to The Times, each company involved is using Microsoft’s PhotoDNA software, which adds hashes, or digital signatures, to images that qualify as child abuse or pornography, allowing companies to quickly remove those images. The database would not be made up of the actual images, The Times reported, but of the digital signatures of those images.
Facebook would only tell The Times:
We are committed to using technology as a force to protect children.
Thorn Executive Director Julie Cordua told the newspaper:
This has the goal of cleaning this horrific content off platforms … with the goal of the identification of victims.
And John Carr, who advises the British government on online protection issues and is a board member of the U.K. Council for Child Internet Safety, called the potential database “a fantastic development” and told The Times:
It is a major step forward in the fight against the rise of child abuse images online.
Readers: Would you like to see the Thorn database move forward?