Press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF), has identified a surprising new platform for hosting banned content: Minecraft.
RSF said it had put work by banned, exiled or killed journalists from five countries – Egypt, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Vietnam – on an open server, making it available for players to view despite local censorship laws.
The organization, collaborating with reporters, Minecraft pros and a creative agency, has produced an enormous in-game “Uncensored Library”.
The structure is a giant neo-classical complex hosted on its own server, which Minecraft players can access freely by pointing their game toward “visit.uncensoredlibrary.com” in the server browser.
“In these countries, where websites, blogs and free press in general are strictly limited, Minecraft is still accessible by everyone,” the group said in a press release.
“These articles are now available again within Minecraft, hidden from government surveillance technology inside a computer game. The books can be read by everyone on the server, but their content cannot be changed,” it said.
The library has a handful of wings, each dedicated to a different country, and each with a series of articles banned in those places, or their authors chased out or even killed. They’re presented in plain text inside Minecraft’s craftable books — not exactly the easiest way to take in these important essays and reports, but better than nothing.
In May last year, Microsoft, which acquired Minecraft in 2014, said 176 million copies of the game had been sold since it was launched a decade ago.
The project, announced last Thursday to mark World Day Against Cyber Censorship, is called “Uncensored Library” and takes the form of a large neoclassical-style building in the game.
RSF said the library is growing, with more texts being added both in English and their original languages.
Already available in the game are articles by slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and from Egyptian online newspaper Mada Masr, which has been blocked in the North African country since 2017. (Source: The Straits Times)