Minecraft players have mobbed the game’s social media accounts in a rally against its latest update which includes a common abusive behavior reporting tool. Some players describe it as an update that transforms Minecraft into an authoritarian dystopia of censorship.
Minecraft’s Java Edition released its new 1.19.1 update on Wednesday and introduced a Player Reporting feature that lets players report abusive chat messages in multiplayer servers. According to the game’s Community Standards, the type of behavior that would get a user banned includes hate speech, bullying, harassment, sexual solicitation, or personal threats.
Some Minecraft players did not wait long to voice their outrage at the update, making hashtag #saveminecraft trend last week. Minecraft’s official Discord server and the Minecraft subreddit are also flooded with negative feedback. The primary fear from players is censorship—the belief that this feature infringes on their freedom of expression. Many are equating this update to George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, calling it the “1.19.84” update and accusing both Microsoft and developer Mojang of being “corporate rats.”
The root of the outcry lies in the fact that Minecraft is notoriously a lawless space for players to mess around as much as they want. Multiplayer servers, they argue, should be allowed to moderate themselves as they see fit. With the update, some players fear that the game they know and love has changed forever, and their ordinarily welcomed trolling behavior will now get them banned.
Mojang has defended this feature and claims it’s here to stay. On Reddit, the Community Manager of the subreddit responded to a user’s complaint, writing “while we understand this may not be the answer some of you were hoping for, we are not planning on changing it.” The post has nearly 2000 downvotes.
Despite the Orwellian comparisons to mass surveillance, however, the community’s reaction is largely misinformed. Players fear that swearing or any misconstrued messages will get them automatically suspended or banned. According to Mojang, the feature is entirely reliant on users making reports and human moderators reviewing the messages for harmful content in violation of their Community Standards. A profanity filter is available, but that is a separate feature that will not result in a suspension or ban and can be toggled off.
While content moderation tools can be abused, most commonly by mass reporting innocent users, Mojang says the volume of reports will have no effect on the decisions made by moderators.