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The offices of MindGeek seen in Montreal, Dec. 9, 2020.Christinne Muschi/The Globe and Mail

Pornhub announced a new user-verification process along with other measures in the wake of a fierce backlash that has followed allegations the pornography website was allowing videos of child rape and exploitation.

The new process is intended to enable the company to determine who has uploaded specific content. The company on Tuesday said it also has expanded its moderation and detection tools and that the reforms have been adopted by all MindGeek platforms, which include numerous websites. MindGeek is the parent company and was founded in Montreal but is now based in Luxembourg.

Feras Antoon, chief executive officer of MindGeek and David Tassillo, chief operating officer of MindGeek, said in a statement that when they joined Pornhub in 2008, the goal was to create “the most inclusive community on the internet,” saying it was designed to celebrate freedom of expression, value privacy and empower people. They said over the years, they have led “the fight against illegal online content.”

Pornhub and MindGeek have come under scrutiny after a New York Times opinion piece said the site makes money off child rapes and revenge pornography. Visa and Mastercard have cut ties with the company and a parliamentary committee is now probing its operations.

On Monday, the House of Commons ethics committee heard from 19-year-old Serena Fleites, who said when she was 14 and asked Pornhub to remove a video of her, the company responded by “hassling” her, demanding she prove she was the child in the video. She was 13 when the video was posted. Ms. Fleites said after the video was removed it was constantly reposted to the site by users.

The company did not respond to questions from The Globe about that issue.

Users are those who post content to the website while visitors are those who only view it. Pornhub said only verified users can upload content to its site and other MindGeek platforms, including those who are verified within its “model program,” which confirms their identity with Yoti, a digital verification tool. To do so, a user must provide a current photo and government identification document and Yoti checks the validity of the documents using biometric technology, the company said.

On Tuesday, Pornhub reiterated some measures that were announced in December, such as removing the ability for visitors to download content, with the exception of paid downloads from those in the model program who have given consent.

Pornhub said all MindGeek platforms have content teams dedicated to auditing platforms for potentially illegal material and that its moderation program has a system for flagging and removing illegal material and detection technology. The company said moderators will undergo more training to help their work.

Conservative MP Arnold Viersen, co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group to end modern slavery and human trafficking, said in an e-mail to The Globe on Tuesday, the fact that MindGeek is introducing the changes in the midst of a “total damage control PR campaign” and a day after Ms. Fleites’s testimony “seems a little disingenuous to me.”

Michael Bowe, a Manhattan lawyer who is representing Ms. Fleites and others, said that for years MindGeek has been “gaslighting the world about its purported industry-leading moderation and technology to block rape and child porn from its tube sites, so I don’t credit any of this until proven otherwise.”

The company said the new measures were adopted in conjunction with a review of the company’s content compliance program being conducted by by New York law firm Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP.

The review of MindGeek platforms’ moderation practices and processes for preventing users from uploading child sexual abuse material and non-consensual content began last April.

Megan Walker, executive director of the London Abused Women’s Centre in London, Ont., said she believes the measures are meant to please the government and critics but is doubtful they will be implemented

“The only way women and girls will be truly safe from being exploited on Pornhub is to shut it down.”

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