Four of the biggest tech giants are teaming up in a pledge to combat extremist content. Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Twitter will all contribute to a shared database of terrorist images and videos.

Each of these images will be given a ‘hash,’ a unique digital identifier that makes it easier for partners to identify and remove content. Due to differing policies, they will start with the most violent and indisputable media. Over time, each will develop its own rules for the content hosted on its servers.

Removing Content and Government Requests

Using this power, Microsoft could choose to automatically remove media. However, the four giants are purposefully avoiding that route:

“No personally identifiable information will be shared, and matching content will not be automatically removed. Each company will continue to apply its own policies and definitions of terrorist content when deciding whether to remove content when a match to a shared hash is found,” said the companies in a shared statement.

Despite the removal of personal information, the four will continue to share information with the government when required. Microsoft’s data will be subject to the usual transparency policy, and it will share information requests twice a year.

However, the initiative will not stop here. Going forward, each company will be looking at how to involve additional parties. We can only speculate at this point, but it wouldn’t be unusual to see other social medias like Instagram and Tumblr joining in the future.

“We hope this collaboration will lead to greater efficiency as we continue to enforce our policies to help curb the pressing global issue of terrorist content online,” said the companies. “We also seek to engage with the wider community of interested stakeholders in a transparent, thoughtful and responsible way as we further our shared objective to prevent the spread of terrorist content while respecting human rights.”

You can read the statement for yourself on the Facebook newsroom.