RSF expands “Uncensored Library” in Minecraft with room on Iran

To mark World Day Against Cyber Censorship (12 March), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has opened an additional room about Iran in its “Uncensored Library” within the popular video game Minecraft. The room contains information provided by the US-based Iranian TV channel Iran International. RSF has also expanded the room dedicated to the Russian media.

The creation of the new room dedicated to Iran and Iran International comes three years after RSF launched its “Uncensored Library” within Minecraft as a way to circumvent online censorship. The game’s players can access and download the library though this link. All of the content in the library’s rooms is available in English and in the mother tongue of the journalist or media that created it.

The “Uncensored Library” is located within Minecraft because this video game is still subject to little censorship, even in countries that are press freedom predators. With more than 145 million active monthly players, Minecraft is one of the world’s most popular video games. The average age of its players is 24.

“The enemies of the media and information tighten their grip on the Internet every year, but there are still loopholes in their censorship systems that we must exploit. That is the reason for this digital library, the expansion of which poses a direct challenge to oppressive countries such as Iran and Russia.”

Christophe Deloire
RSF secretary-general

The Islamic Republic of Iran is currently one of the world’s most hostile regimes for independent journalists and media. The authorities have been stepping up their harassment of media personnel ever since the start of the protests about Mahsa Amini’s death in police custody last September. Of the 31 journalists currently imprisoned in Iran, 29 were arrested in the past six months. The authorities are also blocking social media to prevent Iranian citizens from accessing news and information online.

Even Iranian journalists living in self-imposed exile are subject to a great deal of pressure and threats. Iran International used to be based in London but had to relocate to Washington because of the high level of threats to the safety of its journalists in the British capital.

New Russian media outlet added to library

Russia has taken its persecution of journalists to a new level since launching its invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, when the Kremlin quickly adopted new Orwellian laws to systematise censorship. This is why RSF has expanded the space dedicated to censored Russian media content, adding content from the independent Russian media outlet Lyudi Baykala.

Founded in February 2020, Lyudi Baykala is an Irkutsk-based regional media outlet whose coverage includes investigative reporting about soldiers recruited from this region, one of the poorest in Russia, in order to fight and die in Ukraine.

“Uncensored Library” – innovative way to evade online censorship

The “Uncensored library” is an idea of the German creative agency DDB, the “Uncensored Library” was built with the help of the design studio BlockWorks. Twenty Minecraft users from seven different countries help to construct the rooms.

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Updated on 10.03.2023