Allah, Allah, Oxen Free

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Here's to a (hopefully) not-too-distant future when stories like this one no longer see print:

Yahoo allows Allah in ID

FOUNTAIN CITY, Wis. (AP)—A man says his attempts to sign up for an e-mail account with Yahoo failed when he used his name, which includes the letters a-l-l-a-h—as in Allah, the Arabic word for God.

Ed Callahan said he tried to establish the e-mail account after his mother, with the same last name, could not get one.

As he tried using various words, he determined that e-mail addresses with other religious words seemed OK, but not if they included the spelling of Allah.

"The war on terror is becoming a war on Muslims," Mr. Callahan said.

Yahoo Inc. said last week that it has changed its policy to allow use of the word. In a written statement, the company defended the previous policy as an attempt to protect users from hateful 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," according to the statement.

Whole bit, courtesy of Wash Times, here.

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  1. Sounds perfectly reasonable to me. Yahoo didn’t want people posting horrible things using an address like allah_is_very_silly@yahoo.com, because: a) it’s against their terms of service (freely-entered contracts, not government censorship, remember); and b) it harms Yahoo by associating their brand with horrible things. (Same way that a publisher would turn down some racist book because they didn’t want their name associated with it, so even if they made a profit on the book itself they would suffer commercially in the long run.)
    So they put this mechanism in place. True, they didn’t do it perfectly, and so this Callahan guy complained, and then they fixed it.
    It’s a funny story, but I don’t see any larger point. Are you supposed to say “Here’s to a day when we no longer have a problem with hateful speech on the Internet”? Or “HTADW companies ignore hateful speech”? Or what?

  2. Here’s to a (hopefully) not-too-distant future when stories like this one no longer see print:

    You’d censor the press so they couldn’t run stories like this?

    Seriously, though, I think the first commenter is pretty accurate. But hey, it’s Monday, and I work way too hard, although it looks like the next story tells me I’m wrong there, too.

  3. Worship no false email addys before me!

  4. Ya-who?

    Seriously, I haven’t used Yahoo anything (except for the chat program via Trillian) for at least two years.

  5. I had no problem with my name: Dave GodDamnYou.

  6. mediageek,

    I’ve used both Yahoo! and Google for years. Google used to seem better, but I find Yahoo! to be at least as good as Google now.

  7. Even Yahoo and Allah can’t deny the power of Hollywood Classics.

  8. Ajay-

    I think the point is, why is the word “Allah” singled out? Why is Buddha_has_man-boobs@yahoo.com or Zoroaster_sucks@yahoo.com (or anti-Semitic names, for that matter) acceptable and anti-Islamic ones are not?

    And I find it hard to believe that there were a lot of Allah-haters out there spreading hate through e-mail addresses. Perhaps that’s the next new medium for hate speech. It has the appeal of brevity, I suppose.

    Also, do you believe people really think Yahoo is endorsing these views just because someone came up came up with a certain e-mail address? If someone wrote a hateful speech on a sign with some magic markers, I wouldn’t blame Crayola.

    But in the end, you’re right– it’s up to Yahoo to design whatever policies it sees fit. I just don’t think it makes much sense.

  9. I have a Yahoo account that jabs at Christianity and I haven’t had any problems with my email address, which contains the word “Jesus”. It’s not blantantly offensive, but it would probably be considered mockery.

  10. I’d be surprised if anyone with as common a last name as “Callahan” could get an email address at Yahoo! at ALL without having to resort to something like
    callahan04980491580493819048103480134801483@yahoo.com

  11. Time for Dirty Harry, a Callahan himself, to straighten this out!

  12. “And I find it hard to believe that there were a lot of Allah-haters out there spreading hate through e-mail addresses.”

    Then you must find a lot of plausible things hard to understand. As the first commenter already pointed out, what’s so bad about a company not wanting to be associated with hate mongers?

  13. “what’s so bad about a company not wanting to be associated with hate mongers?”

    The fact that not all monikers with “allah” are offensive, or that only “allah” was banned, not “jesus” “god” or “yahweh.”

  14. Well, obviously they’d already thought about the cALLAHan problem, and worked out that Jesus is quite a common Spanish name, so it would cause problems; and there are legitimate names that include the string GOD, such as Godwin and Goddard. But they just missed Callahan.

    Understandable: if you were thinking “Names that include ALLAH” you’d think of Muslim names first, and they tend not to include those letters. We don’t know what other ‘religious names’ Callahan tried. Maybe they’d have permitted Buddha or Zoroaster or the Yama King.

  15. While gALLAHger is less common (and funny) than it’s more common counterpart Gallagher, it’s not unheard of in these here Unted States.

  16. “YahWEHHHHHHH-hoo!”

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