Deterring behavior online.

One unforeseen consequence of the rise of Internet has been an explosion in the illicit trade of child sexual abuse images and videos. The simplicity and anonymity of the Internet has enabled content to be shared many times over with the click of a button.

the challenge

Because of the sheer volume of illicit child abuse material online, law enforcement isn’t properly equipped to sift through the many thousands of people searching for this content online to focus on the potential hands-on offenders and content producers. The result is that people using the Internet to share child abuse material are doing so with seemingly low risk of getting caught.

our approach

Thorn runs the country’s most extensive online deterrence program, communicating directly with people searching for CSAM, disrupting their sense of anonymity and encouraging them to seek help. By suggesting help resources, we aim to change behavior and increase accountability. We are constantly testing messaging, identifying the best tactics to reach and persuade specific sub-groups, and capturing aggregate data to inform future research.


Since the program launched, the child sexual abuse deterrence program has seen over 3.4 million visitors and more than 205,000 instances where individuals went on to actively seek further help via phone, email, and website.