Sony Locks Guy's PSN Account For Using 'Jihad', His Real Name

A 26-year-old Saudi gamer says his PlayStation Network account was locked for using the word Jihad — which also happens to be his first name. 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.

Although the word "Jihad" is most often associated with Islamic terrorism these days, its definition is complex and nuanced, and it has been used in various contexts throughout the history of Islam.

In an email to Kotaku, Al Mofadda said he's had the account iJihaD since 2008 or 2009. "It's really weird," he said. "Not sure why the inconsistency in solving gamers' issues. They seem to cherrypick whom to offer a solution and whom to revoke it." Al Mofadda also provided Kotaku with a photo of his passport and copies of his email exchanges with PlayStation customer support.

One email 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."

After speaking with us and other news outlets, Al Mofadda said Sony again contacted him as a result of all this publicity, this time offering to let him switch handles. "Unfortunately, they will force me to change the name, losing trophies and friends but keeping purchases," Al Mofadda told me in an email. "As they still can't accept my name. I wish it was a nicer solution. Especially since their renaming system does a lot of harm on a persons account."

Sony had not yet returned a request for comment at time of writing. PSN still won't let you change your account name.


    Does this mean the term crusade is also an unacceptable handle for a name?

      That would be a bit hypocritical if they were to claim that the word "crusade" is too offensive to be allowed on PSN, given that the movie section of their own PS Store is selling Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade :P

    They should just force everyone to use numbers only, that'll solve everything.

    Except for whoever manages to snag 8008135.

      I can write my name on a calculator so I'm all for that and 8008135

      Seems to be the way online names are going these days. Saw a guy in Overwatch yesterday who had a long name with more numbers than letters!

    When I read the headline, my first thought was, "Well, it sucks to get caught up in a filter; the guy's probably used to it by now, I guess this is the price we pay for a bunch of people being assholes."

    Then I read that they refused to change it (initially outright, then without fucking the account). What the hell, Sony? How the fuck do they not have a name-switching system by now? I know they have the facility to attach a 'Real Name' (or whatever you say is your real name) to your handle, but what about the handle change itself for situations exactly like this? Not to mention the fact that the PSN has been around for long enough to leave some adults with kids and mortgages etc some real regrets about their dumb, teenage legacy.

    Whether that happens or not, it sounds like that guy could probably stand to do what nearly everyone else does... use a handle, dude. Not your real name. ESPECIALLY on networks run in countries where your name is synonymous with terrorism and hatred.

    ...Using your real name online is generally ill-advised for most gamers, anyway. (Unless you have to put it to something you've written for professional reasons - heyo Kotaku staff!)

    Last edited 28/06/16 9:25 am

      9/10 I always use my real name for my gaming handles. Being serious, if someone wishes to find who you are a online handle won't stop that so I don't bother caring. Shame this bloke can't use his real name.

      That's so ridiculous I had to Google it and confirm it. I figured there had to be more too it. You'd think by now they'd have a system for it just so they could charge people $10 to use it.
      I guess they must have structured their PSN user database poorly and now they're stuck with it due to anti-tampering protection on their devices.

        This is probably exactly the reason :(

    "PSN still won't let you change your account name"

    Wow, this has literally been available since the Xbox 360 launched. Didn't Soy. Only just enable appearing offline, too? i honestly would have thought that when Sony started charging people for PSN they would have caught up to Xbox in the feature department.

      I think it's good that they aren't the same, feature wise, each have decided on what is important and built around that. For me, changing your account name really isn't that big a deal. Though not having to wait for a game to update on the PlayStation before you can play it, that's pretty important to me. I don't want to buy a game, throw the disc in and then need to wait for an install AND an update.

        I don't get that last bit, you can update games before you buy them?

    Not sure why my earlier comment didn't appear, so I guess I'll just try again...

    If "Jihad" isn't acceptable, then you have to question why the system allowed him to create the account with that name in the first place. And apart from that, why is that name in particular considered to be so offensive? I've encountered others which you'd think would be just as bad (hello, "mancustard" and "MyDYourMouth"), but those are apparently fine?

    “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.”

    You have got to be kidding me?!
    This is how I see that statement:
    "As stated in our previous email, when faced with a tough decision and backlash from a knee jerk reaction, we have to take the easy route.
    I can appreciate that your name has many meanings, but rather than be part of the education process, we have instead decided to align ourselves with those who only know the negative meaning.
    Clearly some users live in a bubble, and it's far easier for us to pander to that, than it is to face up to our mistake."

    EDIT: Hold on, report or reports? It had better have been more than one report, otherwise to claim the needs of the many over the needs of the few is disgusting when you are reacting to a single report.

    Last edited 28/06/16 11:06 am

      You know what, I don't think making him change his name is a problem. The problem is the way it was treated initially and the lack of consistency. There are probably a lot of other names out there that should be changed too. Anyone with "killer" in their name for example.

      Not sure how many reports he got, but most companies only need one (thinking Blizzard and WoW).

        Oh I agree, the treatment is what got me so annoyed to begin with.
        I also agree that a name change isn't a bad idea, but only highlights the flaws with the system.

        What really gets on my nerves though, at the risk of sounding nuts, it's like we are perpetuating the need for fear.
        Why do we allow, afford and even assist anyone to perverse language in such a way.
        It makes more sense to rob them of that ability by exclusion (Linguistically and in context, for anyone who might misunderstand my meaning)

        If it's really a matter of meeting the needs of the many over the few, then it seems backward to me.

          Yeah good point. I personally don't care what someone uses as a name but I can understand how some people can be offended or "triggered". I do dread the point where everything is so PC whitewashed that you can't use anything for fear of censure.

        What's so offensive about KillerHeadache? Or KillerSandwich.

        Last edited 29/06/16 9:27 am

          Sorry I probably wasn't really clear. The point was they're not really offensive, or at least no more offensive than Jihad. So if you're going to ban one you should ban the other. All I can assume is that no one has complained about people with names like "SykoKillah" or "MurderMan" because you see stupid (borderline offensive) names like that pop up regularly.

            Oh, I totally agree (see facetious "everyone should be numbers" comment), I was just being dumb :P

    They didn't happen to change it to Pacifier?

      Upvote, because I know exactly what you're referring to, and it kinda makes me feel old.

        Ha Ha, did the same thing.
        A fleeting moment of excitement followed by the grim reality of time.

    Sony are just being shit and it amazes me their system does allow full transfer of everything. However this would be a golden opportunity for MS to step in and offer him a bunch of free stuff for some cool PR.

    This is the kind of shit which would make me drop a brand permanently. I would get an Xbox if Sony tried to pull this shit with me.

    Lol all im reading are people butthurt about not being able to change the name or feel sorry for this guy. oh well hes got a arab name. He should know by now that he should just use another name for his gaming handle, its not like most people wanna know the real name of the gamer online anyways...
    Sony did state back in the PS3 era when you make your account, gotta make it unique and also something that is not offense. Why would you want to change the gaming handle anyways? You made it, so you should stick with it for the years to come.

      I assume you're still using the email address you made in primary/high school, right?

        well yeah off course, but im not an idiot to have to put stupid names as an email address :P
        gotta set yourself ready for the future when you gotta use it for professional reasons.
        I made it in Highschool btw, 20 yrs ago.

      You really should be able to change your name without losing all your achievements and other stuff linked to your account. If you can't that's just sloppy DB coding, it's something you should learn in pretty much your first DB course.

      As for changing the name, perhaps you made it as a kid and thought it was cool but later it looks stupid, or your parents set it up for you and it's too cutesy for you, or perhaps you're suffering online harassment and you want to change it to avoid that harassment. Probably a bunch of other valid reasons too.

        Yeah i get what you mean an all by the one that maybe you made it as a kid and was dumb but then you change you're mind about it. In that case it comes down to the individual, most of us were and are full aware how long we will have a gamer name and want to make sure its going to stick through for the years to come.

        But remember that is sony and how they tackled that hack all those years ago from lizard squad.. really stuffed up their database heaps, so im thinking they are trying to not have people make changes to stuff and along the way or else it could stuff up their system. MS knows what they are doing but Sony just does things differently.

          Guess it depends on how old you were when you made it and whether you were really into something that was a flash in the pan fad. Imagine naming your self "MilliVanillaFan01". Even worse imagine not thinking through the unintended consequences, say you were a straight, male Abba fan and you named yourself "DancingQueen69". Oops!

          I'm still happy with my gaming nicknames because I picked them as an 18-20 year old not a 13 year old and I tried to pick something about myself (I like writing) and not current fads.

          I suspect it's a combo of poor programming, being money hungry, and trying to disencentivize it. You see it in WOW too. Name changes cost $11 for something that should be basically free. Sure there was some initial coding but it's probably bugger all. So the logic is if we charge for it people won't do it regularly, and if they do "Score! Easy money!"

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