Sony’s PlayStation Network Customer Service team bans a gamer for having a user name that contains ‘Jihad,’ but it turns out that is the gamer’s actual name.
Managing an online community with millions of users is a lot of responsibility. The companies in charge need to make sure that they are providing a safe, fair, and respectful environment that customers will want to return to. Banning cheaters, spammers, and users with offensive names is an easy first line of defense to keep the community happy (like Blizzard has been doing in Overwatch), but sometimes offensive words with multiple meanings can be tricky and cause some confusion. Sony is learning that the hard one after banning what the game thought was an offensive user name.
The story broke over the weekend when PSN user Jihad Al Mofadda took to Reddit to share his story. The 26-year-old Saudi gamer explained that his account was locked because of his user name: iJihaD. To Al Mofadda, the handle is a clear reference to his given name, which has multiple meanings, but to PSN customer service, the name is too closely associated with Islamic terrorism.
Al Mofadda has had a wild ride with PSN customer service. At first, Sony planned to allow Al Mofadda to switch to a new handle and keep his account, but after a few days the ticket was reassigned and a new customer service specialist, who informed the gamer that his account was going to be banned. The ban would make it impossible for Al Mofadda to retrieve his trophies or any of his digitally purchased games. Luckily, the popularity of his story on Reddit has helped motivate PSN Customer Service to lower the punishment a bit.
Instead of banning his account, PSN is now back to allowing Al Modadda to switch his user name to something else. Unfortunately, this will result in the player losing all of his trophies, but he will get to hang onto his friends list and his digitally purchased games. This isn’t ideal, but Sony is standing by its original position that the word ‘Jihad’ is too upsetting for some gamers.
Here’s an explanation from one of Sony’s emails to Al Moffada…
“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.”
There’s no doubt that this was a tough decision for Sony to make. We’ll be interested to continue following Al Moffada’s story now that it is in the public eye.
What do you think of Al Moffada’s situation? How do you think PSN customer service should handle the issue? Let us know in the comments.