SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube have joined forces to create a global working group dedicated to the removal of terrorist and extremist content from their online platforms.

The internet giants announced in a statement the formation of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, which will help them to pool resources and share best practice to deal with the problem.

"We believe that by working together, sharing the best technological and operational elements of our individual efforts, we can have a greater impact on the threat of terrorist content online," the statement read.

The companies said the partnership builds on existing initiatives, such as the EU Internet Forum and Shared Industry Hash Database, as well as discussions with the British government and the conclusions of the recent G7 and European Council summits.

The UK government has been especially vocal in its criticism of Google and other tech companies in recent months and has held a series of high-level meetings with executives to press them to do more about tackling extremism online.

Prime Minister Theresa May also met French President Emmanuel Macron earlier this month and the two leaders agreed to consider proposals to fine social media companies if they continued to fail in taking down extremist content.

With the establishment of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, the four tech companies expressed confidence that it would foster cooperation between business, governments and a wide range of stakeholders.

"It will formalise and structure existing and future areas of collaboration between our companies and foster cooperation with smaller tech companies, civil society groups and academics, governments and supra-national bodies such as the EU and the UN," they said.

They added that the scope of the work will evolve over time, but in the meantime they would focus on technological solutions, such as developing new content detection and classification techniques, as well as on research and sharing knowledge with governments and other organisations.

Data sourced from Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism; additional content by WARC staff