Secret Craft: Reporters use Minecraft to host a forbidden library

April 14, 2020

2 min read

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What's going on here?

The non-profit organisation “Reporters Without Borders” and a collective of designers called BlockWorks have built a virtual library on Minecraft. The project was created to host censored articles by journalists from Russia, Egypt, Mexico, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia.

What does this mean?

The Uncensored Library” was created using 112.5m blocks, designed and built over 250 hours by 24 builders from 16 different countries. The server hosting the virtual library has been visited by 3,889 players and has been downloaded over 7,000 times by users from 75 various countries.

It uses Minecraft as a platform to promote freedom of information worldwide, by publishing articles by journalists who were selectively censored. The content ranges between works composed by Javier Valdez, a Mexican writer known for reporting on drug-trafficking and includes texts by Nguyen Van Dai, an exiled Vietnamese human rights lawyer.

What's the big picture effect?

Minecraft’s popularity is the reason it was chosen as a medium of free speech. The game is played by over 145m people globally each month and, in 2014, was purchased by Microsoft for $2.5bn. Minecraft’s players are the library’s largest target, because the project is intended to be accessed by young people raised amidst governmental propaganda.

Reporters Without Borders also considers Minecraft an effective platform because it is available to play in each country the articles originated from. As a result, The Uncensored Library can be used to allow people from these communities to access censored works.

By mixing censored content in an internationally available game, it currently evades censors due to the difficulty in blocking in-game content without also banning Minecraft as a result. Also, as the library can be downloaded and reuploaded by different users, it is easily replicable and hard to delete.

However, it is unlikely The Uncensored Library will have a large audience. Given the information is hosted on a server and not directly on social media, it does not represent an easily accessible and secure reading experience. As a result, its audience may be more limited than anticipated.

Despite these factors, it remains to be seen how Minecraft and governments will respond to the library’s answer to censorship.

Report written by Evania D’souza

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