Yahoo! Gets Into Allah-t Of Trouble
Yahoo! has found itself in the midst of a new controversy after blocking the use of the word “allah” in email account registrant screen names. The uproar sparked from an unlikely complainant, Ed Callahan, whose name includes the banned letter sequence. Yahoo! has since reversed its policy.
The Massachusetts resident discovered the ban after trying to set up a Yahoo! email account for his mother, Lindy, who has the same last name. On Callahan’s website, he points to another person of Irish decent going by the alias of Kallahar, who reported the same problem in June of 2005.
From Kallahar’s website:
“I tried kallahar2′, then kallahar3′ then kallahar385753984753.’ All of them came back as unavailable.’ I did some more research, and came up with the following interesting results. All of these were tested in the “test4allah408754873″ format to ensure they weren’t simply conflicting with an existing user.”
Kallahar found that “allah” along some other words, like “binladen,” “osama,” and “raghead,” were also banned from use at Yahoo!.
Stemming from an update post 2000, there was a curious mix of allowed words that include:
god; messiah; jesus; jehova; yahweh; quran; koran; mohammad; islam; usama; nazi; satan; jihad; terrorist; pedophilepriest88; killmuslimsandarabs1; and jewskilledjesus999.
After Calahan’s story hit national news, Yahoo! was quick to make adjustments to re-allow the use of the word “allah.” With reasoning similar to that expressed by World of Warcraft executives for warning a gay/lesbian/bi/transsexual guild creator, Yahoo! said in a statement the measure was taken to protect users from hate speech.
“A small number of people registered for IDs using specific terms with the sole purpose of promoting hate, and then used those IDs to post content that was harmful or threatening to others, thus violating Yahoo!’s Terms of Service,” wrote Yahoo! a representative.
“‘Allah’ was one word being used for these purposes, with instances tied to defamatory language. We took steps to help protect our users by prohibiting use of the term in Yahoo! usernames.
“We recently re-evaluated the term ‘Allah’ and users can now register for IDs with this word because it is no longer a significant target for abuse.”
While Callahan’s mother has decided to boycott Yahoo! by signing up for a Gmail account, Ed has registered allahs_in_Callahan@yahoo.com to poke a little fun at the company.