Minecraft is a frequent member of the "trending" circles across the internet and social media platforms, often involving major announcements or content updates. The long-running creative survival game is attracting attention once again, but this time it's for the negative controversy surrounding its latest feature. What is the #SaveMinecraft movement, and why has it gained so much power in recent days?
Thousands of the Minecraft community are decrying Mojang Studios' newfound "Player Reporting" feature, which was officially added in the recent Minecraft: Java Edition 1.19.1 update, following weeks of comprehensive testing. The feature aims to improve the safety of Minecraft and its chats but has generated a significant level of ire from players that claim the feature can't be trusted and goes against the "freedom" offered by the title.
We've been exploring what this Minecraft safety feature actually is, how it works, and weighed it against the growing concerns of the #SaveMinecraft movement. It's clear Mojang Studios didn't implement this feature lightly, investing considerable time and effort into ensuring Player Reporting improves the safety of Minecraft's online multiplayer while combating the risks of exploitation.
This article isn't just a summary of personal opinions — the first half is a detailed and in-depth review of everything players need to know about Minecraft's Player Reporting. I hope to shed light on certain truths about the system that some naysayers of the system are overlooking. The latter half of the article goes into the #SaveMinecraft movement, with some extra thoughts based on my findings so far.
The truth of Minecraft's Player Reporting
The power of video games as an entertainment medium, especially its innumerable online communities, is undeniable and insurmountable. Video games bring millions of people together to share a common space, and Minecraft boasts one of the largest and most engaged communities in the industry. Minecraft has gained a reputation for being open, aiming to embrace and empower all manners of players. However, that also opens the doors for people that may discriminate, manipulate, harm, and otherwise introduce hate to what should be a safe space.
With Player Reporting, Mojang Studios is attempting to introduce a baseline of safety throughout multiplayer to protect Minecraft's inclusivity. With such a diverse range of unique online servers and worlds, with varying resources to moderate and protect, it's difficult to guarantee that Minecraft will be an equally safe space regardless of who you are and how you want to play. Players who encounter a dangerous situation or environment in which they can't seek recourse can have their freedoms restricted solely because of the actions or behavior of other players. With Player Reporting, any Minecraft player now can make their voice heard.
Minecraft's Player Reporting system allows players to submit harmful, illegal, or otherwise inappropriate chats to Mojang Studios for review, with the potential for the offending player to have their account suspended or even banned.
Of course, Mojang Studios stepping into its famously open-source and creator-centric platform to install a system with the power to ban players is bound to cause a stir of concern, so I want to explore what Mojang Studios is hoping to accomplish with its Player Reporting system, what actions the company can take, and what protections are in place to prevent it from being exploited.
Player Reporting is best explained in five categories: how the system works, how suspensions or bans work, for what reasons players can be suspended or banned, how the system prevents exploitation, and how the system works with third-party servers.
How does Player Reporting work?
To immediately assuage some of the more prominent concerns, Mojang has stated Minecraft Player Reporting is not an automated feature. According to the developer, it does not automatically collect or send information, censor or filter messages, or prevent messages from being sent. The Player Reporting process only begins once a player observes or becomes a victim of another player violating Minecraft's Community Guidelines to harass, threaten, or harm.
Once a violation occurs, players can then utilize the Player Reporting tool to report the offending player to Mojang Studios' team of human moderators. A "Learn about reporting" button during the process links to a helpful resource detailing Player Reporting and the various Report categories. Here's how that process works:
- The reporting player selects the objectional message(s) sent by the offending player.
- The reporting player selects from the following list of Report Categories that most closely matches the content of the messages:
- Imminent harm — Self-harm or suicide
- Child sexual exploitation or abuse
- Terrorism or violent extremism
- Hate speech
- Imminent harm — Threat to harm others
- Non-consensual intimate imagery
- Harassment or bullying
- Defamation, impersonation, false information
- Drugs or alcohol
- The reporting player can provide additional comments or information relevant to the report.
- Once the reporting player submits the report, the Player Reporting system automatically collects:
- Surrounding messages from the chat feed that may be relevant to the report
- Evidence of the authenticity of the reported messages (including the chat trust status, which is explained in more detail below)
- The completed report is sent to Mojang Studios' moderation team, a trained team of human experts that are well-versed in Minecraft and its gameplay.
- The moderation team reviews the report, its associated evidence, and the surrounding context from the chat to ascertain if any action is needed.
- If action is needed, the offending player's account could be suspended or even banned, depending on repeat offenses or the severity of the violation.
- If action is taken against the offending player, they will be provided with a detailed reason for their suspension or ban, as well as the planned duration.
To summarize, Minecraft's Player Reporting feature is not automated, and the process is always started by a player. Mojang Studios stated it has a trained team of moderators that evaluate the evidence, while considering the context in which the reported message was sent. This system is not designed to filter or censor Minecraft and instead is an additional tool built on top of Minecraft and its servers and worlds, which players can use if necessary.
How do suspensions or bans from Player Reporting work?
When Mojang decides it's necessary to take action on a Player Report, what actually happens? Once an offending player is suspended or banned, they'll be notified upon starting Minecraft of the reason for the action and its duration. Suspensions and bans in Minecraft affect all online multiplayer, including private servers, entirely preventing the affected player from joining other players in Minecraft. These suspensions also affect older versions of Minecraft, in which players will be notified once they join a multiplayer session instead of at startup.
The majority of suspensions caused by the Minecraft Player Reporting system are temporary. Players will be able to rejoin online multiplayer in Minecraft after a set duration, which changes depending on the severity or frequency of the offense. In the event of numerous repeat offenses or extreme cases, Mojang Studios may be forced to permanently ban an account from playing Minecraft online.
Single-player Minecraft will still function in its entirety, even for banned players. If a player believes they have been wrongfully punished, they can file an appeal using a form on the Minecraft website.
Player Reports are reviewed by a moderator, and all actions are approved by that moderator before going into effect. For a player to be suspended or banned, there must be sufficient, verified evidence that the offending player violated Minecraft's Community Guidelines. But what constitutes a punishable offense?
For what reasons can players be suspended or banned by Player Reporting?
With any reporting systems — which exist in practically every major online multiplayer game — there are always concerns of disproportionate or unfair actions taken against offending players. With Minecraft's Player Reporting, Mojang Studios wants to ensure that players aren't unduly punished, while also following through on its intention to improve the safety and inclusivity of Minecraft.
In Minecraft: Java Edition, you can be banned by Player Reporting for the following:
- Hate speech and discrimination, which includes a targeted effort to harass, intimidate, insult, or threaten any player for any individual or group characteristic, including sex, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, and more.
- Bullying and harassment, which includes a concerted effort to offend, intimidate, or threaten any player in an inappropriate and potentially harmful manner, or attempts to repeatedly contact a player without consent, or doxing a player by sharing personal information.
- Sexual solicitation, which includes the discussion or sharing of intimate or sexually explicit imagery and content, or the discussion or promotion of indecent or illegal behavior toward children or minors.
- Violent threats, which include the discussion, promotion, or threat of extremist terrorism, or the threat of imminent personal or bodily harm to another player or person in real life.
- Solicitation and exploitation, which includes efforts to encourage or force players to engage in illegal activities, or to purposefully exploit or mislead others with the use of misinformation or a false identity.
It's not controversial to claim that everything listed above is undeniably bad, and shouldn't be allowed in any space that claims to be a safe haven for people of all ages and backgrounds. Of course, some gray areas could potentially be occupied by "jokes and banter," but Minecraft's Player Reporting system is monitored by a live team of moderators that should understand the context in which potentially offending messages are sent.
On the other hand, players will not be banned by Player Reporting for the following:
- Playing in single-player, as Minecraft's Player Reporting system only functions in multiplayer settings where players can send chat messages back and forth, and only then when a player chooses to submit a report.
- For swearing or profanity, as Minecraft's Player Reporting system does not censor or filter chat messages, and instead aims to protect players against purposeful malicious behavior from other players. Spaces that allow the use of swearing or profanity, but still follow Minecraft's Community Guidelines, will not be affected.
- For threatening to self-harm or commit suicide, as Mojang Studios recognizes this is not behavior that requires punishment, and instead requires that the player in question is provided with support and resources if they need them.
- For jokes or banter, as Mojang Studios recognizes that appropriate in-game, in-context jokes and banter are an important facet of online multiplayer and player-to-player communication, as long as it does not violate Minecraft's Community Guidelines.
How is Player Reporting protected from exploitation?
Mojang Studios didn't throw the Player Reporting system together in a matter of days without considering the various ways in which it could potentially be exploited or used against innocent players. The system has a myriad of protections in place to prevent wrongful suspensions or actions, and Mojang Studios seems to have covered its bases. The company is also committed to continually monitoring the Player Reporting system to make necessary changes.
The entire system begins with the newly implemented "chat trust status," a security feature that tags all chat messages sent in Minecraft to verify their authenticity. Messages sent as part of the Secure Chat system are cryptographically signed and are guaranteed to be unmodified and genuine. These are the only messages that can be submitted in Player Reports as valid evidence, and Mojang Studios will never act on a Player Report unless it can verify the message.
Here's a breakdown of the chat trust status and how messages can be tagged by the system:
- Secure Chat messages have been verified and signed by Minecraft to be genuine and unmodified. These messages can be submitted and used as evidence for Player Reports.
- "Not Secure" tags are used for messages that cannot be verified by the Secure Chat system, and have missing or invalid signatures. These messages cannot be submitted or used as evidence for Player Reports.
- "Modified" tags are used for messages that have been modified or rearranged in any way, by the server or other means. If available, the original signed text of Modified messages will be displayed under the interactive icon. These messages cannot be submitted or used as evidence for Player Reports.
- The trust status for all messages will be displayed in-game via an always-present colored indicator, as well as an interactive icon present within the chat screen
As previously mentioned, Player Reports are only player submitted, meaning Mojang Studios isn't monitoring every chat. Mojang Studios' moderation team is only involved when a player submits a Player Report with Secure Chat messages as evidence, meaning there are no automated actions. Once a Player Report is submitted, a trained moderator evaluates the entire report, including contextual chat messages collected as part of the reporting process, to ensure that the Player Report is valid and to discern if an action is needed.
Granted, there are other concerns for potential exploitation that players have been discussing since the release of the 1.19.1 update. So, let's clear those up with an old-fashioned Q&A:
What if I've been wrongfully suspended or banned by Player Reporting?
An action is taken against an offending player from a Player Report only if a moderator finds sufficient evidence of that player violating Community Guidelines, with each submitted message being verified for its authenticity. If any chat you've sent falls under any of the bannable offenses detailed above, you may have violated Minecraft's Community Guidelines and earned that suspension.
Of course, mistakes are always possible, as no system is 100% reliable. Fortunately, Mojang Studios has also considered this possibility. A form on the Minecraft website lets you submit an appeal. Be sure to accurately fill out all the relevant information, with plenty of details describing why you believe you've been erroneously suspended or banned. Mojang Studios' moderator team also reviews appeals and will consider if a mistake was made with the original Player Report.
Will I be banned if many players submit Player Reports against me?
Mojang Studios' moderation team does not consider the volume of Player Reports when evaluating a case. A single Player Report is worth the same as a thousand, as long as those Reports contain sufficient evidence to warrant an action. If Mojang Studios finds evidence that a significant sum of players are submitting false Player Reports in an attempt to ban a single player, the Player Reporting moderating team may instead take action against the reporting players.
Can players submit false or exaggerated Player Reports?
There's always a risk that some players may attempt to abuse the Player Reporting system in order to flood the system with irrelevant, inconsequential Player Reports, ban a player with falsified Player Reports, or incite other players to support them in using the Player Reporting system for a nefarious reason. It is the player's responsibility to ensure that their Player Reports are submitted in good faith and that they do not contain falsified information, according to the studio.
For any Player Report to be taken seriously by Mojang Studios, it must contain proper, verified information as evidence and contextual chat messages to support it. Player Reports also cannot be anonymous and always include the information of the player submitting them. Any players knowingly submitting incorrect or falsified Player Reports or attempting to abuse the system could face temporary or even permanent bans on their account, depending on repeat offenses and severity.
Could mods exploit or abuse the Player Reporting system?
We've analyzed claims about exploits that work in the final release of 1.19.1.You may have seen videos of exploit mods that claim to prove they work. A mod being used to send in a report does not mean that report is valid and actionable nor that the tampering is undetectable.July 29, 2022
One concern that has accrued a significant amount of attention from Minecraft players is that mods can exploit the Player Reporting system to submit incorrect or falsified Player Reports. Mojang Studios has already responded to these claims, asserting that any evidence of a mod successfully submitting a Player Report is not evidence that the Player Report "is valid and actionable nor that the tampering is undetectable."
Other protections by the Player Reporting system, such as the chat trust system and the requirement for evidence, prevent any mods from being successful at exploiting it. Mojang Studios went on to report that falsified Player Reports range from "harmless reports of innocent messages to reports that show clear markings of having been faked." That being said, using a mod to attempt to abuse the Player Reporting system, even as a joke, can still result in action against your account.
What if somebody else gains access to or uses my account and is suspended or banned?
Players are wholly responsible for ensuring they alone have access to their accounts. To prevent unwanted parties from gaining access to your Minecraft account, Mojang Studios strongly suggests players enable two-factor authentication, use a strong and complicated password, and avoid using mods or programs from untrusted sources.
This also applies to situations where you knowingly let someone else play on your account. You are still responsible for your account. Mojang Studios cannot reverse the action made on a Player Report, as it cannot verify that a player is telling the truth. It's easy to claim that "someone else did it," even if it had always been you.
How does Player Reporting work with third-party or private servers?
Many Minecraft players have expressed worry that Mojang Studios' new Player Reporting system won't play nice with third-party or private servers, of which there are hundreds across Minecraft: Java Edition. In the weeks of testing preceding the official release, however, Mojang Studios worked closely with numerous servers and operators on Player Reporting to collect feedback and ensure the feature would work with servers, not against them.
The simple fact is, moderation is a time-consuming and resource-intensive endeavor, and plenty of servers may not have the necessary resources to properly investigate and act upon reports of abuse or harassment in their space. Player Reporting is not a replacement for server moderation, nor does it operate automatically. It's built on top and allows players to report players, with each Player Report reviewed by a live team of moderators that many servers likely do not have.
Some have claimed that "private servers" no longer exist thanks to Player Reporting, but this forgets that every Player Report is first submitted by another player — Mojang Studios' Player Reporting system never monitors chat or automatically creates Player Reports. If you are suspended while in a private server, it is because one of your fellow players found your behavior to be inappropriate, and it was confirmed to be violating Minecraft's Community Guidelines by Mojang Studios' moderation team.
The rise of #SaveMinecraft
The advent of any moderation system in an online video game capable of holding players accountable for their actions is bound to be met with plenty of pushback. However, Mojang Studios' newfound Player Reporting system has seen a particularly aggressive surge of protestations from the Minecraft community since it first entered testing. Now that the system is officially in place, it has birthed the #SaveMinecraft movement, which has enjoyed a trending hashtag on Twitter, its own website, and even a Change.org petition with over 11,000 signatures at the time of publication.
Why has #SaveMinecraft accrued so much support in such a hasty fashion? Minecraft's Community Guidelines have always been in place, and all players across the Minecraft ecosystem are expected to adhere to that code of conduct when accessing Mojang Studios' game. With Player Reporting, Minecraft now has a way to enforce its guidelines, meaning players that have frequently been violating the Community Guidelines can now be met with the consequences of their actions.
It's not as clear-cut as this, of course. I've been observing the #SaveMinecraft movement, and there seem to be several motivations for rallying against Player Reporting in Minecraft.
As far as I can tell, supporters of #SaveMinecraft generally fall into one of three categories — those who believe Player Reporting can't be trusted and will inadvertently ban innocent players or be exploited by duplicitous players, those who believe Mojang Studios is encroaching on their freedoms and Minecraft's open philosophy by censoring them, and those who are fighting against the system that will (rightfully) prevent them from behaving in the manner they desire.
Windows Central reached out to Mojang Studios for additional comments on Player Reporting and #SaveMinecraft, but the company declined to comment, instead referring us to its admittedly thorough Player Reporting documentation and FAQ.
I'd hope that the initial half of this article would educate and alleviate the concerns of the former two groups. No system can be perfect, but Mojang Studios has invested time and effort to ensure that Player Reporting is as trustworthy as possible. The process begins with a player reporting another player, and ends with a live, trained moderator reviewing the Player Report and making a decision based on the verified evidence available. This entire process is protected from exploits and abuse by a variety of safeguards, including a cryptographically signed chat trust system that guarantees the authenticity of submitted messages.
Player Reporting also never monitors chat messages, never filters out or censors sent messages, and never prevents players from sending messages. The goal isn't to censor Minecraft players, but rather to hold them accountable for their behavior by placing all players on a level playing field. This is a condensed version of the age-old debate "Freedom of speech, but not freedom from the consequences of your speech." You're welcome to send any chat you desire, but if you violate the Minecraft Community Guidelines, to which you knowingly agree when you play Minecraft, with the intention of harassing, threatening, or harming another player, other players now have the power to use the Player Reporting system in an attempt to hold you accountable.
There are valid reasons to be wary of Player Reporting. It's our duty as players to hold Mojang Studios accountable, and to ensure this system can't be exploited or abused. Mojang Studios doesn't want to suspend or ban innocent players, and it doesn't want players who rightfully deserve to be suspended or banned to continue playing free from consequences. We shouldn't blindly accept that Player Reporting is perfect, but we should also acknowledge that this system wasn't hastily pieced together. Mojang Studios isn't ruining Minecraft, and this epic game doesn't need to be "saved."
The vast, overwhelming majority of players will never be affected by Player Reporting. However, those same players will now have a standardized, always-available avenue through which they can protect themselves while playing Minecraft. This isn't about censorship; this is about player safety.
Embracing the need for player safety
Minecraft: Java Edition stands at the pinnacle of some of the best and most wildly successful PC games of all time, and as such it attracts players from all walks of life. People and children of all ages, sexes, genders, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, religions, and beyond love and enjoy Minecraft from practically every corner of the world. Each one of these players agrees to the Minecraft Community Guidelines to build a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment across the entirety of the Minecraft ecosystem, which consists of millions of players and thousands of servers and worlds.
Unfortunately, not all Minecraft players are content treating their fellow players with respect and kindness, and move through Minecraft with inappropriate or even directly harmful behavior. In the countless spaces that unfortunately lack comprehensive moderation and player reporting, players that are negatively impacted by the behavior of a small minority have unfortunately had no ability to protect themselves short of logging off the game entirely.
I would hope that the majority of players would agree that everyone deserves to play Minecraft, as long as they treat their fellow players with a measure of respect and decency. I would also hope that the majority of players would agree that no player deserves to be bullied, ridiculed, threatened, or harmed by another player while attempting to play Minecraft. Player Reporting is a singular system installed across all of Minecraft: Java Edition that encourages players to adhere to Minecraft's Community Guidelines, and helps protect players affected by harassment or harmful messages.
Mojang Studios and the Minecraft community have created one of the most popular gaming spaces on the planet, and it should be protected to remain a welcoming space. If you're genuinely afraid that you'll be suspended or banned by Player Reporting, even after reviewing all the information I've enclosed above, I urge you to consider whether your behavior in Minecraft is actually appropriate, especially
if playing alongside children and other groups more susceptible to bullying and harassment.
Minecraft's Player Reporting feature only begins when one of your fellow players files a Player Report, indicating that the reporting player observed you violating Minecraft Community Guidelines. Close-knit friend groups may be more accepting of inappropriate behavior, and those groups won't be affected on private servers (as long as your friends don't report you), or when using a third-party system like Discord. However, when you're in a public space that could contain players that do not consent to that behavior and could be harmed by it, Player Reporting will work to protect them.
Minecraft: Java Edition Player Reporting is not about censorship or the removal of freedom, nor is it a hastily composed system prone to exploitation and abuse. Player Reporting is about guaranteeing the safety of Minecraft players, even at the expense of playing privileges for those that endanger that safety. The open, inclusive nature of Minecraft isn't being torn apart by Player Reporting and Mojang Studios' imaginary desire for control; it's being strengthened by empowering players that otherwise would've had no voice to protect themselves. Minecraft doesn't need to be saved; Minecraft is better, and safer, than ever.
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Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.