RSF’s Free Library is expanding. Launched a year ago, it gives the public to access censored articles via the computer game Minecraft. In countries where the Internet, blogs and the free press are restricted, the game is accessible to all and, through it, the RSF Free Library allows players anywhere in the world access to books containing articles that have been censored in their original countries. This digital library, which up to now has contained content from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Mexico, Russia and Vietnam, has been extended to two new countries: Belarus and Brazil. The content can be read in English and in the writers’ native languages.
“In Belarus and Brazil, it is becoming more and more difficult for citizens to obtain free access to information,” says RSF Secretary General Christophe Deloire. “Since the start of protests against electoral fraud in Belarus, the government has cracked down on the work of journalists. In Brazil, unjustified prosecutions of media organisation and the hostile attitude towards journalists encouraged at the highest levels have seriously affected press freedom. By making unpublished articles in these countries available, RSF's Free Library makes it possible for as many people as possible to access trustworthy information from a broad variety of sources once more.”
Blocked content in Belarus, censorship in Brazil
In Belarus, where television and most of the print media are firmly in the hands of the Lukashenko regime, only online news sites and overseas-based news organisations are able to disseminate independent news and information, but their content is regularly censored by the authorities. RSF's Free Library publishes articles from the independent website Charter 97, which has been blocked in Belarus since January 24th, 2018. The website documents the repression faced by journalists since the beginning of the protests against President Alexander Lukashenko’s contested re-election, in August 2020.
Brazil is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists in Latin America. Since President Jair Bolsonaro was elected in 2018, reporters have faced hate speech, disinformation and violence. In its Uncensored Library, RSF publishes reports from the independent online newspapers Grupo Gente Nova (GGN) and The Intercept. The two news organisations have seen some of their articles censored by court rulings as they have highlighted the suspicious activities of Latin America’s largest investment bank BTG Pactual and exposed the murky relations between a politician and the election authority in the state of Amazonas.
300 000 downloads
With more than 126 million players per month, Minecraft is one of the most popular video games in the world. The Uncensored Library, devised by the German advertising agency DDB, has acquired a considerable reputation in the past year. Since its launch in March 2020, more than 20 million players from 165 countries have used it to learn more about press freedom around the world. The library is available on Minecraft via the server address visit.uncensoredlibrary.com and can be downloaded from the dedicated site www.uncensoredlibrary.com hosted on a separate server. Available on social networks via the hashtag #TruthFindsAWay, the library has been downloaded by more than 300,000 people, making censorship almost impossible.
RSF is holding an online event to celebrate the inauguration of the new rooms. In addition to Blockworks founder James Delaney, we'll be talking to journalists from Brazil about their experience of censorship and will take the opportunity to check out the rooms in Minecraft together. The event will take place at 4 p.m. on 12 March on the online platform BigBlueButton. You can sign up here :
The event will be also broadcast live on Reporters Without Borders social media channels.