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.


Elinor Mills