Sony Locks Up The PSN Account Of A Man Named 'Jihad' Because You'll Never Guess Why

from the what's-in-a-name dept

Terrorism is scary. That's the entire point of terrorism, of course. The relatively meager bodycounts of acts of terror -- compared with, say, most minor individual battles in either of the World Wars -- are actually attempting to create some kind of political or social change amongst the victims. And guess what? It totally works! After all, western nations, the bastions of freedom and puppy dogs that we are, have reacted to what is ultimately a minor threat by reporting toddlers to the authorities, freezing the bank accounts of people with dogs whose names are a couple of letters off of the scary terror-enemy, and refusing online services to people with scary (read: Islamic) sounding names. Freedom, you see, isn't free, and we have to pay for it with freedom.

And the real lesson that should be learned from pretty much the entire early part of this century is that once you start the fear-ball rolling when it comes to terrorism, it gets really hard to prevent it from trampling a great deal of innocent people in some of the dumbest ways possible. Take, for instance, Sony just flat out banning a guy's Playstation Network account because his parents named him "Jihad."

Jihad Al Mofadda, whose story shot to the front page of Reddit yesterday, said that Sony banned his account on June 7. At first, PlayStation customer support offered to switch his PSN name to something else. Then, he says, after a few days of silence, a different representative reviewed the ticket and decided to ban the account entirely, preventing Al Mofadda from accessing his stats, trophies, and all of the digital games he’s purchased. After his story exploded, Al Mofadda was able to get in touch with a Sony representative again, but he was unable to keep his original handle.

Ok, there's a lot to unpack here. Stories like this are fantastic for pointing out how easy it is for a corporate entity to try to apply some kind of language policy to its online forums and systems only to find itself hopelessly engaging in hypocrisy. For instance, Jihad is a word with a lot of discussion about what it actually means. Westerners tend to associate it with the term "holy war", and it has indeed been used in that way historically, but the word itself essentially means to persevere or struggle to keep the Islamic faith. To that end, Jihad isn't a rarity in use as a first name in Muslim circles. Meanwhile, one of my own Playstation friends has the handle HowDatDicTaste. Shall we vote on whether that handle or the one Al Mofadda used, iJihaD, is more likely to offend?

But the fact that Sony refused to allow the handle even when it was explained that Jihad was Al Moffada's first name moves this into epic levels of silliness.

One e-mail from a Sony representative read as follows: “As stated in our previous email, we have to consider the network as a whole and we need to take every ones feelings into account. I can appreciate that your name has many meanings but it has one meaning that a lot of users find offensive and there for, when a report was submitted the decision to ban your account was taken.”

Imagine for a moment that some religious sect went completely rogue somewhere in the world and carried out a series of violent attacks. And imagine that this sect decided to name these attacks "Steves." Sect members would walk into a crowded marketplace in Brazil, declare a Steveing, and set off a bomb. And let's say that these attacks received wide press coverage.

Would Sony then ban the accounts of everyone named Steve? C'mon, it's the guy's first name and he has the passport to prove it.

At the time of this writing, Sony is still refusing to allow him to use his old handle, but has allowed him to keep the purchases on his account under a different name. This means he gets his games, but loses all the friend connections he'd made as well as his game trophies. Is this the biggest deal? Of course not. But the point is that when we can't even allow people to use their own first names because we're all petrified by terrorism, things have gone a bit too far.

Filed Under: jihad, playstation, terrorism, video games
Companies: sony


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  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 3:47am

    "This means he gets his games, but loses all the friend connections he'd made as well as his game trophies"

    I'm not totally familiar as I've never felt the need to do it, but I know that Xbox Live has a mechanism where you can change your gamertag and keep your achievements, etc. Does Sony not have such a mechanism, or are they just feeling like they need to pointlessly punish this guy for embarrassing them? If they can't let you change your screen name without losing everything, they might wish to implement that at some point.

    As for the case itself, it's silly but I can imagine some people complaining over the screen name. People won't know it's based on his given name, so Sony would probably just want to stop complaints from people who are scared of that sort of thing. You know, the kind of person who gets so scared of a brown man doing maths that they need to try and get him kicked off the plane (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/may/07/professor-flight-delay-terrorism-equation-american- airlines). They'd probably be calling Sony up before the guy finished beating them in-game.

    So, I can understand why Sony felt they needed to take action even if they did so (as ever) in the worst possible way for all parties.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 5:51am

      Re:

      It is better to piss off 1 person that to ignore someone screaming about the issue.

      https://consumerist.com/2008/05/22/microsoft-confirms-gaywood-is-an-offensive-surname-mr-gaywo od-responds/

      http://kotaku.com/5010324/microsoft-explains-gaywood-ban

      "Recall Toulose also referred to the XBL Terms of Use in explaining why user "TheGAYERGamer" received a ban, stating, "Gamertags are visible to everyone and it would be hard for me to defend to a parent of a young child who saw it that the name did not contain content of a sexual nature.""

      So a parent looking to be offended by a word, matters more to them because they can imagine hundreds of parents forming a MillionMoms and threatening a boycott.

      Look at the people they target, those they don't think anyone will care about. Brown people are thrown off of planes by racists mentioning how uncomfortable they are being made... and expect the world to make THEM more comfortable. Imagine if corp policy became to offer them the later flight, rather than parade the brown person off the plane to waiting police?

      Also Sony got hacked 21 times in 1 year, and then the bigger hacks happened... I doubt they understand how to move network records.
      http://attrition.org/security/rant/sony_aka_sownage.html

      And despite all of this fail... people keep using them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Jul 2016 @ 11:04am

      Re:

      It's come up in other cases like these. Apparently their back-end system is not set up to allow changes like that. For whatever reason that god only knows.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JMT (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 10:21pm

      Re:

      "...Sony would probably just want to stop complaints from people who are scared of that sort of thing."

      They could also ignore the complaints from those intellectually challenged people, instead of creating negative PR by bowing to them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jul 2016 @ 3:52am

    Hypocrites are...

    as hypocrites do. And almost organization for profit or power is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jul 2016 @ 3:53am

    As stated in our previous email, we have to consider the network as a whole and we need to take every ones feelings into account.

    To attempt that leads to paralysis, as it does not matter what you decide to say or do, someone somewhere will take offence; indeed, remaining silent, or doing nothing, will offend someone somewhere.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 5 Jul 2016 @ 4:07am

      Logical conclusion:

      I suspect that if you let the feelings of the majority take priority, then we will pretty soon reach a state where the bots get all humans banned from playing.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Aw Jeeze, 5 Jul 2016 @ 7:32am

      Re: pic run amok

      Yes indeed!

      At a local supermarket in Salt Lake City, Sprouts, I had a sandwich made to order.

      One had to fill out a paper form, with a space for your name.

      My nickname is Sugarlips, which is what I wrote. This apparently offended the staff, with subsequent unpleasantness.

      I eventually was given the sandwich, the worst I have ever had (stale bread, very skimpy makings...).

      Adios Sprouts. After years as a loyal customer, your lack of humor, common sense, consideration and respect has lost you a formerly loyal customer.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 3:53am

    Because they fear the USG more than they fear their customers.
    The USG loves to play the everyone has to help stop terrorism card and enjoy mentioning how secret messages are being passed in online games with words written in bullets on walls. They can now hold up this awesome story about how they stopped terrorism, rather than fending off a random story about how they support terrorism because random guy had a name some wingnut was offended by.

    If it was such a horrible word, why was he allowed to make the account? Preemptively banning the word would seem to make more sense then screwing a paying customer well after the fact.

    "when a report was submitted the decision to ban your account was taken"
    So some idiot, who more than likely was beaten in a game and most likely used wonderful words files a complaint and wins.

    So a SINGLE report about a name being offensive is enough to lock someone out of the content they paid for? Or your CSR overreacted and had a meltdown over the name, and you are trying to save face after screwing a customer that harshly over his name.

    Sony - we can fuck you without lube and you dumb mfers keep coming back.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 4:44am

      Re:

      "how secret messages are being passed in online games with words written in bullets on walls"

      Really? That's an actual story that people are reading? I had a quick search but didn't see anything, but that sounds rather... unlikely. To be real, I mean, not that you haven't read such a thing.

      "They can now hold up this awesome story about how they stopped terrorism"

      Anyone who actually believes that blocking a guy's Playstation account had any effect on terrorism is probably too stupid to need the government to propagandise to them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That Anonymous Coward (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 5:41am

        Re: Re:

        Its a familiar trope they trot out about extremists communicating in online games, mentioned around here a couple times.

        Have you met the members of Congress? As long as the soundbite sounds great they don't care.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 5:51am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I've heard of the fear of people communicating via games (which is possible, it's just not a very good or likely venue for the most part). The bullet thing strikes me as particularly far fetched, though.

          I know politicians don't care, but I'd be concerned about anyone dumb enough to believe that without very good evidence.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That Anonymous Coward (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 5:59am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            google - paris attack PS4

            There has been talk about messages in coins in Super Mario levels, the shooting messages into walls, and all sorts of stupid shit.

            More US citizens are killed by cops than by terrorists, which one do we spend billions to stop? Evidence doesn't matter, just soundbites.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jul 2016 @ 4:18am

    Given the US's reaction to terrorism

    We should rename it the United States of Cowards, Weaklings, Wimps, and Pussies. "Land of the Free"? "Home of the Brave"? Not even close.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jul 2016 @ 4:50am

    Since Jihad it's actually a name of religious significance (who knew? You learn something every day,) I suppose there's a better analogy than "Steve."

    It's more like "Chastity" bombers performing Chastisement. I wonder what Fox News would say if that was banned as a user name? Somehow I'm sure they would argue that it's completely different!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jul 2016 @ 4:59am

    Can you also band everyone with the name "Christian" because I am offend because, you know, the crusades?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jul 2016 @ 4:59am

    I hope that they are consistent and do the same with all those "Crusaders", "Holy Wars", "Templar" (they were religious fanatics) and other variants that you might see around.

    Just saying.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ed (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 5:02am

    Sony has always been a c*** and always will be.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jul 2016 @ 5:12am

    there for?
    good grief, sony. this august individual speaks for you?

    as for our overreaction, they're playing the fiddle 'cause we dance every time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 5:22am

    With all the names...

    Wouldnt it be confusing if we all used our REAL names??
    How many J. Doe..
    John Smiths..
    George Jones
    Richard Craniums..
    Bill Beans
    Alphonse Rodriguez Santiago Richard Smith are there??

    How many Common NAMES in every Language??

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 9:25am

      Re: With all the names...

      I ran into that years back when making a personal (yahoo) email account. I used my initials and last name, then added a number to the end that I incremented until it said the name was free. I got to 65 by that point.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    tom (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 5:41am

    Wonder how long before they ban Hispanics named Jesus or Middle Eastern folks named Mohammad?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    kallethen, 5 Jul 2016 @ 6:13am

    Last summer I re-read the first Dune novel. All the while, in the back of my mind, I had this pondering "what-if" thought...

    What if this book was released today? How much crap would hit the fan? It's eerie how the book takes on a new light after recent events of this decade.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Gracey (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 6:18am

    Well I find the name Dick offensive. When do they start banning dicks (yes, pun)?

    Just wait ... someday we'll all be assigned numbers at birth instead of names ... just to avoid offending someone.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      I.T. Guy, 5 Jul 2016 @ 6:24am

      Re:

      I am not a number!!! I am a free man!!!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 6:24am

      Re:

      YOUR NAME IS PRIME!!! THAT IS OFFENSIVE AND YOU ARE APPROPRIATING PRIME CULTURE!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 7:02am

      Re:

      That would be funny. Now imagine everything in a pompous British accent:

      #2282623666: "Hello Mr 2274893059, how are you in this fine day?"
      #2274893059: "Good day he-who-shall-not-be-named! It is a splendid day indeed!"
      #2282623666: "My good friend, why do you insist in calling me those unconventional names instead of my fine number?"
      #2274893059: *lowers voice* "I'm afraid, dear friend, that your number is of utmost offense."
      #2282623666: *displays the most Britishly puzzled face* "Why would that be, sir?"
      #2274893059: "The number ends with 13, it is common knowledge that it brings misfortune and is generally chosen by terrorists. (!!!)"

      Yep, it would totally work!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 7:38am

      Re:

      With the braintrust we have in charge, I can see them just using our social security numbers as names.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 6:48am

    Dang, the name Jihad Al Mofadda sounds like a "holy war against pillows" in my language (assuming jihad as being the term for holy war of course). Quite fitting I must say. And I laughed hard.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Vinquus (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 7:22am

    I for one welcome...

    that at least one online service has, I suppose, the opposite of a "real name" policy...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DOlz@aol.com (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 7:34am

    Look we’re doing something!

    The fact that is meaningless, does nothing to make us safer, and causes innocent people trouble isn’t our problem.

    Security Theatre, friends its the show that never closes despite an incoherent plot and bad revues.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    A Dan (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 8:08am

    Names and terrorism

    I'm surprised this wasn't already mentioned, but some college friends named their daughter Isis (after the Egyptian goddess) before all this Islamic State stuff happened. It wouldn't surprise me if people with that name start running into issues like this.

    Also in the interesting camp, my girlfriend's name is Renee. When she got her computer, Windows wouldn't let her set up a user account with her name, because it said her name contained profanity. She was able to set it up with a nickname, but it was very frustrating. We were never able to figure out what profane word was involved.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 7:48pm

      Re: Names and terrorism

      When she got her computer, Windows wouldn't let her set up a user account with her name, because it said her name contained profanity.

      You're going to need to run that one by me again, because I'm sure I'm reading it wrong. Are you saying that they prevented her from creating a user account on her own computer because they thought her name was a profanity in some way?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That Anonymous Coward (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 11:02pm

        Re: Re: Names and terrorism

        I would hazard a guess that it was a Win10 install.
        MS is all about the cloud & accounts in the cloud and make it hard to create an account that isn't web based, its like 4 almost hidden tiny print clicks to make one.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 9:05am

    this actually highlights a bigger issue... the terrorists have won, and will continue to win when things like this happen, it's because they want us to be afraid, and because we are acting as such, we are clearly afraid, scared little kids. The terrorists have indeed, instilled terror into our collective psyche.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 7:55pm

      Re:

      The terrorists have indeed, instilled terror into our collective psyche.

      It doesn't exactly help(to put it mildly) that they have any number of governments helping out by piling on the fear-mongering to terrorize the public, governments that have found that so long as you can keep people afraid, and/or spin your actions as 'To fight terrorism' you can get away with pretty much anything.

      (To be clear, I'm not saying that said governments are working with terrorist groups, but that both the governments and terrorist groups have a vested interest in keeping the public afraid, leading the governments to fan the flames rather than respond with more sane, measured responses.)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Jul 2016 @ 11:55pm

        Re: Re:

        but that both the governments and terrorist groups have a vested interest in keeping the public afraid

        No real surprises there, as both groups want to be able to tell people how to live their lives, and the conflict between governments and terrorists is about who gets to do that.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Padpaw (profile), 6 Jul 2016 @ 4:24am

        Re: Re:

        especially when governments like the US fund and support the very terrorists they demonize.

        ! hand gives, the other hand takes.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 11:12pm

      Re:

      The thing that no one wants to admit is that the biggest terrorists are the governments.

      I don't worry that someone in 'arabic' dress will come running up with an AK-47 and murder me, I worry more that someone will execute someone in 'arabic' dress because the government told them to fear them because terrorism.

      I don't worry that someone will get 8 oz of something onto a plane, I fear that a chemo patient who is tube fed will be assaulted by petty unchecked tyrants for my safety.

      I don't worry I might come across a video promoting ISIL, I worry that someone who disagrees with the government will find their voice silenced because terrorism.

      I don't worry that ISIL is using encrypted communications to somehow radicalize millions of Muslims in the US, I worry that the government will troll all of my communications looking for reasons to pull me in front of the Committee for UnAmerican Activities.

      I don't worry ISIL will convince young people to take up arms, I worry our government keeps abusing these citizens because its 'popular' and will disenfranchise them from society as a whole leaving them vulnerable to those who point out this isn't right and lead them towards bad acts.

      I don't fear ISIL, I fear the government.
      I don't fear Muslims, I fear the god-fearing red blooded american who takes his rage out on anyone who looks 'Muslim'.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 11:20pm

        Re: Re:

        "The thing that no one wants to admit is that the biggest terrorists are the governments."

        Well, except for the people who come into every internet thread on the subject to tell us...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jul 2016 @ 9:08am

    There is a feedback loop here that is tightening.

    As advertising and propaganda become progressively more micro targeted based on things like consumer facial expressions, browser content and email monitoring etc. etc. the number of mistakes in profiling is going to increase.

    There is something said for the relationship between people going postal and the increase of covert algorithm based psychological manipulation. People don't have to know that they are being antagonized, to be antagonized.

    Permit me to theorize that there may be a correlation between school shootings and assorted other irrational violent events, and micro targeted advertising and propaganda. No I don't have any data, yet.

    As algorithms become more advanced and applied to more things the loop will get tighter. The number of people going postal will increase. The algorithms will be proportionally adjusted to more effectively interfere with the domestic population, which will in turn cause MORE people to go postal, and the cycle continues to get tighter and tighter.

    I'd be interested in hearing any opinions on what can be introduced to disrupt the flow of this particular funnel, if indeed it exists.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jul 2016 @ 9:23am

    ...

    *Anonymous yanks his PS3 from the entertainment center and tosses it in the trash*

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JoeCool (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 9:26am

    A slight correction to the article

    It's a fear TURKEY, not a ball, and you don't roll it. ;)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jul 2016 @ 9:49am

    But then again...

    “We have to consider the network as a whole and we need to take every ones feelings into account. I can appreciate that your name has many meanings but it has one meaning that a lot of users find offensive. As an interim measure, we have changed your screen name from DeTrump to DeSchist. We have given you a free renaming token, but be aware that the new name will have to go through our 90 day review period before activation.

    Sincerely,

    Irma Fuchwithe, CSR”

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 5 Jul 2016 @ 12:39pm

    When I have kids, I think I'll name them "Bomb" and "Gun". I swear those names have deep religious meaning for me. I'm sure it won't cause any problems for them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 1:21pm

      Other names

      Perhaps Sony needs to expand their vision and become more inclusive in their censorship. To help them out, here are some more questionable names:

      Emily (means "rival")
      Mara/Molly (means "bitter")
      Persephone (means "bringing death")
      Sloane (means "raider")
      Huxley ("inhospitable place")
      Jacob/James ("supplanter")

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 7:08pm

    The IRA springs to mind.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Adolf, 5 Jul 2016 @ 10:08pm

    Reminder

    Just a reminder that Adolf is a real name as well :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    sophocles (profile), 6 Jul 2016 @ 8:35am

    reminds me of AOL telling people in Scunthorpe UK that their town name violated the TOS because of the letters embedded in the town.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Monday (profile), 6 Jul 2016 @ 10:41am

    A rose by any name...

    ... wouldn't be called a friggin rose now, would it?

    بلاي ستيشن

    PlayStation in Arabic. Must be "Extreme Radical Muslim". Fox and CNN are so ahead of our time...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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