This Library Is Filled with Government-Censored Content—but You Can Only Access It in Minecraft

It took three months and over 12 million blocks to build.

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Reporters Without Borders
  • Earlier this month, the nonprofit Reporters Without Borders created "The Uncensored Library" within the video game Minecraft.
  • The idea was to use the extravagant library, which lives on an open server in the Minecraft world, to host books filled with information that has been censored in countries around the globe.
  • It took 24 builders from 16 different countries over 250 hours to design and create the library.

    To protect the work of journalists like the late Jamal Khashoggi in places where authoritarian governments routinely censor independent media, the nonprofit Reporters Without Borders has unveiled a stunning new library, hosted virtually within the world of the popular video game Minecraft.

    The library ensures citizens in countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Russia can access information that would otherwise be blocked.

    Minecraft players around the world can now access troves of digital books inside The Uncensored Library. Each book contains articles that were censored in their country of origin. Users can read the stories, but they can't change them. Reporters Without Borders will add more books to the library as governments continue to censor reporting.

    "In many countries around the world, there is no free access to information," Christian Mihr, managing director for Reporters Without Borders in Germany, said in a prepared statement. "Websites are blocked, independent newspapers are banned and the press is controlled by the state. Young people grow up without being able to form their own opinions. By using Minecraft, the world’s most popular computer game, as a medium, we give them access to independent information."

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    Reporters Without Borders

    Reporters Without Borders worked with advertising agency DDB Germany, U.K.-based design studio BlockWorks, and Netherlands-based production firm MediaMonks to build the massive library. It took three months, over 12.5 million blocks, and 24 builders from 16 countries to see it through.

    Within Minecraft, you can access the library through the server address Inside, you'll find books with censored content from five countries: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Mexico, Russia, and Vietnam, in addition to the RSF World Press Freedom Index and reports on current press freedom in 180 countries.

    Each Minecraft book contains up to 100 pages. While the game's world is intentionally blocky and pixelated, this does present some practical challenges for reading. Still, it's better than the alternative.

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    While the point is to subvert authoritarian governments blocking this free information, news reports (like this one) are sure to provoke attempts to pull the library offline. However, if the server is ever hacked, another server with another copy of the library will go online, making those attempts futile.

    There's one other potential problem: Citizens could possibly be identified by their usernames in Minecraft, and their activity logs would prove they had visited the library. It's doubtful, of course, that parent company Microsoft would willingly hand this information over, but it's still something to consider.

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