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E-card site censors shortened name

The automatic nature of online censoring hit a blip last week, after a woman in the UK attempted to send a greeting card to a friend only to be told that his name was considered too rude to be used on the website.

Ruby Levy was attempting to send an e-card celebrating the 90th birthday of an old friend named Richard, and thought nothing of using his shortened name – “Dick” – alongside a message reading “Many happy returns on your significant birthday.” However, the Marks & Spencers website refused to allow the name be sent through its e-card service.

When Ms Levy complained to the store, she was told it was the use of the name “Dick” which had caused offence, and was advised to instead use his full name as they would not be changing their policy.

Speaking about the service, she stated: “‘I send e-cards because it is a nice and easy way of doing things. I usually use an American site, but none of their cards were sober enough to send to a 90-year-old. They were all far too brash and lively,” and said of the complaint: “After I wrote to M&S to ask what I had done wrong, I could not believe it when they sent me a prissy letter saying it was because my friend is called Dick. It is political correctness gone absolutely mad.”

Marks and Spencers commented: “We understand that the customer did not intend to cause offence,” adding, “We must ensure our system is robust to protect our content standards”. Ms Levy has since sent a hand-written card to her friend Dick.

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