Ed Callahan
Home > Yahoo! banned my name!

UPDATE: Yahoo! Relents!

This morning, February 22, 2006, Yahoo! changed their policy and "Allah" is now allowed in usernames. The world can now go on living in peace and harmony ...

Yahoo!s statement:

"We continuously evaluate abuse patterns in registration usernames to help prevent spam, fraud and other inappropriate behavior. 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.
 
"'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. We regularly evaluate this type of activity and will continue to make adjustments to our registration process to help foster a positive customer experience."

Yahoo! banned my name!
(or What does Yahoo! have against Allah?)

OK, Yahoo! (probably) doesn't have anything against me personally, but believe it or not they won't allow a username to contain the word Allah, and Callahan includes that word within it. Don't believe they'd do that? (I didn't at first.) Try to create a username containing Callahan or Allah at the Yahoo! registration page.

Yahoo! won't justify it's policy or even comment on the issue. Apparently Allah is the only deity being banned, as I can create Yahoo! IDs containing the words God, Jesus, Buddha, Zeus, Satan and Flying Spaghetti Monster.

It boggles the mind why Yahoo! would even come up with the idea:

  • Do they think Allah is a dirty word?
  • Do they assume anyone who would have Allah in their username is a terrorist? (And of course no one wants to support terrorists.)
  • If so, do they assume that no terrorists could figure out a way around their "No Allah In Username" policy and therefore will be unable to use the Yahoo! network?

My mother noticed the problem first when she tried to setup an account through Verizon which included a Yahoo! portal. She brought it to the local paper, the Daily Hampshire Gazette, and they published a front-page newspaper article about the issue. From there The Register picked it up, then the AP show the story was everywhere. I watched a piece on it on CNN and I talked to friends who saw it on Fox News and MSNBC. I got a couple calls from morning radio shows. Yeah, 15 minutes of fame. Here's some of the press:

It's just a silly issue, but this was going on just months after 9/11. Everyone who was a Muslim, or lived in the middle east, was tainted by the terrorism in many people's eyes. The UAE was trying to buy a companythat owned several US shipping ports about this time (see here) and there was all sorts of outcries of "them" owning our ports. So was this racism on Yahoo's part? Of course not. But it was relevant to the politics of the time.

I've found one other person complaining about the problem at Kallahar's "Is Yahoo! Banning Allah?" page.