Bypassing censorship: Journalists’ work published in online game

The work of journalists who have been censored by oppressive governments has been published in a digital space that is out of the reach of governing regimes – a computer game.

In an unconventional move, press freedom NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) created ‘The Uncensored Library’, a virtual free library of uncensored documents within the successful computer game – Minecraft.

Unveiled by RSF, the library gives players access to documents which would usually be censored within their country.

The work of journalists who have been banned, jailed, exiled or killed in five different countries has been given a platform once again through this initiative. This includes the work of Jamal Khashoggi from Saudi Arabia, Yulia Berezovskaia from Russia, Nguyen Van Dai from Vietnam, Javier Valdez from Mexico and Mada Masr from Egypt.

One of the articles written by Jamal Khashoggi from Saudi Arabia, who was assassinated in 2018.

By being available in Minecraft, the library offers a virtual space outside of oppressive countries where websites, social media, and blogs cannot be controlled and their opinion cannot be “heavily manipulated by governmental disinformation campaigns,” RSF said.

The library within the game is a neo-classical building built by company BlockWorks out of more than 12.5 million blocks. At the entrance to the virtual library is a digital sculpture of a hand gripping onto a pen. It currently includes over 200 books, with more books constantly being added: “To overcome censorship again and again”.

“Even where almost all media is blocked or controlled, the world’s most successful computer game is still accessible. RSF uses this loophole to bypass internet censorship to bring back the truth – within Minecraft,” the international organisation said.

The virtual library was created by 24 manufacturers from 16 different countries and took three months to build. In a video, BlockWorks said they were “excited about building a platform to overcome censorship”.

The project can also be seen on the website, where the library is cited as “the digital home of press freedom”.

“Let’s empower the next generation to stand up for their right to information and give them a powerful tool to fight oppressive leaders: knowledge. Together with the ever-expanding gaming community, we will show the world that the truth will never be silenced,” RSF said.

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