February 22, 2006 11:54 AM PST

Yahoo Mail reverses ban on 'allah' in usernames

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Yahoo Mail will now let people register usernames that include the word "allah," after a ban designed to thwart prejudice went astray.

The policy reversal, announced Wednesday, came too late for Linda Callahan of Ashfield, Mass., who set up a Google Gmail account after being rejected by Yahoo Mail because of the presence of "allah" in her name, said her son, Ed Callahan.

"She was disgusted by (Yahoo's policy) and saddened," he said. "It was discriminatory. They disallowed 'allah' but allowed 'jesus' and 'god,' and I don't think there is a rational explanation for that."

The existence of the ban made a bit of a splash on the Web after it was reported in The Daily Hampshire Gazette on Friday and picked up by The Register and Slashdot this week.

Early Wednesday, Yahoo issued a statement about its new policy and the reasons for the original ban.

"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," the statement said. "'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."

Though his mother is boycotting Yahoo, Ed Callahan said he wasn't.

"I went ahead for fun and registered 'allahs_in_callahan' in Yahoo," he said, adding that he has devoted a Web page to the Yahoo ban.

It seems the situation has been a problem since at least June 2005, judging from a Web page (which includes profanity) created by someone named "Kallahar," who said Yahoo barred him from registering his name. Apparently, "allah" was not banned by Yahoo until after 2000, the site says.

See more CNET content tagged:
Yahoo! Inc., Yahoo! Mail, ban, username

9 comments

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yahoo only trying to protect people
u cant blame yahoo too much, they only trying to prevent abuse by people using 'allah', i think it's a perfectly fine explanation. there are alot of prejudice people out there.. hating muslims. and face it, people are just haters and will do some really stupid/hateful things including using emails to spread hate for fun.
Posted by Thinkforachange (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
If that was their intention they did a poor job of it
Censorship rarely (read that as never) protects people from prejudice and hate speech. If Yahoo's true intention was to protect people, they should enforce the existing rules in the TOS. Do you really think that a hate monger would be deterred simply because he (the demographic is primarily male) can't register downwithallah@yahoo.com? He'd change it to downwitha11ah@yahoo.com and go about spreading his hate message.
Posted by Nathan Lunn (113 comments )
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protect?
censorship = ignorance

if we can't give ourselves credit to distinguish between right and wrong, then we don't need a free will or conscience
Posted by dave aszenine (16 comments )
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do they ban buddha or jesus as well?
If not gimme a break? Allah is just one of many many many gods of worship
Posted by mcepat (118 comments )
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Jihad against Yahoo!
Just wait until those cartoon protesting wackos here about this!
Posted by Gronar Snaggletooth (35 comments )
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Got Mine
allah_calls_for_islamic_jihad@yahoo.ca
Posted by KsprayDad (375 comments )
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Linda Callahan disgusted?
Linda was "disgusted" by this? Either she is a major techno geek and absolutely must get an email address with her name in it lest she be shunned by her hacker friends, or she has a psychotic symptom that causes her to react violently and emotionally to trivial matters such as the color of the sky.
Posted by nrlz (98 comments )
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Disgusted
She was disgusted at Yahoo's policy of allowing other religious figures terms like God and Jesus and not Allah. The effect of that 'disgusting' (irrational?) reaction of Yahoo's caused the problem.
Posted by KsprayDad (375 comments )
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why 'Osama'
Good day to everyone,
I just want to add to your information that the name 'Osama' is a very common name for Arabian people.. 'Osama' in the Arabic language is one of the names of the lion.
Almost all Arabian names have meanings, either names of flowers, brave or beautiful animals, or adjectives..
The ban of 'Osama' as a username is pointless for many Arabs, it is just like banning 'Tom' or 'john'.
Posted by swaer (1 comment )
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