Update: After Jihad Al-Mofadda's situation took Reddit by storm and got a small signal boost from the media, Sony has stepped in to offer a solution. Unfortunately, the company is still making him change his name, which is likely to reset trophy progress, wipe social connections, and essentially reset him to zero but with his purchased content.
"Good news (Technically only OK news). I just got of the phone from Playstation UK, they re-offered changing the name and apologised," Al-Mofadda told me via email. "Also said I still cannot keep my actual name though. And they said their name changing system has many issues!(What a nice thing to hear!) I will loose all my friends, might be trophies also and any social appearance or interactions! I hope fellow Gamers don't have to go to the media to get their service handled properly!"
It seems that Sony is simply creating a new account for Al-Mofadda and transferring his licenses. Until Sony devises a method to allow users to change their PSN IDs, this is a "service" that seems to only be offered to those targeted. After more than five years of play on that PSN ID, Al-Mofadda will have to start over with friends and trophy progress.
Original Story (June 27, 2016 @ 11:36 a.m. Central):
One of the most common requests since the PSN’s inception is the ability to change user names. People outgrow their childhood handles, words take on new meanings over time, and sometimes your given name is “Jihad.”
Jihad Khalid Al-Mofadda has been a PlayStation Network member for more than five years, with his first trophy earned in 2010. His PSN ID, iJihad, is directly taken from his given name (which I verified via his passport). The name directly translates as “struggling or striving” (typically toward a goal that is noble and good). In recent years, the term has been associated with some terror groups.
Despite his years of membership, Sony banned Al-Mofadda yesterday. This, of course, disables any use of online services. It also has locked him out from use of his purchased content offline.
Its True people! If a SONY employee feels like BANNING you, you loose access to your Digital Assets! Even Offline!!! pic.twitter.com/SniJpr6m8q
— جهاد؟! (@iJihad) June 27, 2016
While average users can’t change their PSN ID, Sony did offer Al-Mofadda the option to select another one due to his longstanding membership. He submitted a list, at which point he says that Sony rescinded the offer.
In order to support his case, Al-Mofadda sent a copy of his passport to Sony as evidence of his legal name. He also reminded Sony that there are many PSN IDs with the name Jihad. As you can see below, those number at least 9,800.
Sony’s response suggests sympathy, but no action to remedy the ban. “As stated in our previous email, we have to consider the network as a whole and we need to take every ones (sic) feelings in account,” writes a player support specialist named James. “I can appreciate that your name has many meanings but it has one meaning that lot of users find offensive and there for (sic) when a report was submitted the decision to ban your account was taken. I sympathize with your situation but the ban remain (sic) on the account.”
Al-Mofadda can’t put a specific value or number of games that he’s purchased digitally. However, he says he has spent quite a bit of money on FIFA Ultimate Team cards that he can no longer access.
We’ve reached out to Sony for official comment from a representative placed higher than a “player support specialist.” We’ll update should we receive a response.
There are two things at play here. First is the apparent offer of an ID change that was then rescinded. The second is the uneven application of the logic behind the ban. Yes, “jihad” is a word that has a particular meaning, but it is this person’s given name.
With 9,800 other accounts bearing that name, it’s unclear how Sony can claim this word is on its prohibited list. Sony owes Al-Mofadda a response and his account back. We can debate whether he should have to change his name (my opinion is that he should not have to), but walling him off from years of purchased content is not a customer-friendly solution.