From: United States of Disease
Ah yeah well..it's kinda somewhat in line with the story if you read the backstory for shadows in the manual. But you can make some edits, firstly in the game creation screen you an edit how many pirate factions there are, how close they are to you, how strong they are at game start, and if they respawn when you or someone else destroys their faction.
Also, about the MAFIA attitude they tend to have, it won't completely alleviate the effect but you can go into the race files and make it so that all races are raiders. Normally there are three personality types, Raider, Smuggler and balanced. Raiders tend to attack more often, smugglers don't attack as much and instead focus on selling you resources which help you build ships early on, and obviously balanced is kind of in between.
You can also optionally choose not to accept the protection agreement. But i don't really advise this in a prewarp game. As i said in the other thread, i think you should possibly not play Prewarp and instead playing a regular game. You will start out pretty much with all the resources you need to get started and be able to immediately start constructing colony ships.