Press freedom group stores censored articles from around the world in Minecraft library

AFP and Business Insider

Reporters Without Borders puts work by banned, exiled, or killed journalists on an open server, bypassing local censorship laws

AFP and Business Insider |

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The map was made to evade censorship in countries without a free press.

A virtual library housing censored articles from around the world has been created within the hugely popular video game Minecraft by press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Minecraft, with its signature pixelated graphics, enables players to build entire universes from Lego-like digital blocks, either alone or with others online.

RSF said it had put work by banned, exiled or killed journalists in five countries -- Egypt, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Vietnam -- on an open server, making it available for players to view despite local censorship laws.

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RSF said that it chose Minecraft because it is available in many more places than sensitive information likely to be censored. For example, Yulia Berezovskaia, editor-in-chief of the Russian news site grani.ru, which is blocked in Russia, said she’s working with RSF to republish articles from her website on Minecraft.

“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.

In May last year, Minecraft said 176 million copies of the game have been sold since its launch a decade ago.

The project, announced on Thursday to mark the World Day Against Cyber Censorship, is called the “Uncensored Library” and takes the form of a large neoclassical-style building in the game.

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RSF said the library was growing, with more texts being added both in English and their original language.

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.