updated 04:50 pm EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Service sends out notes after user passes away, cleans up personal data on Internet
Yahoo Japan launched an interesting service this week, one that gives people an option for deleting part of their digital lives once they reach the end of their physical ones. The service, called Yahoo Endings, offers users some basic services like will-writing, but also sends goodbye notes and deletes personal information from Yahoo.
Yahoo Endings tackles a difficult point of discussion about what happens to digital lives after the person responsible for them passes away. While the service doesn't appear to cover services from social media accounts like Facebook or Twitter, once a death is confirmed, billing to Yahoo's digital wallet is stopped. The company also deletes all photos and messages stored in Yahoo Box online storage.
"This will prevent one's important private information from remaining online after one passes," said Yahoo Japan.
A digital farewell page is created and launched once the service holder passes away, allowing tribute messages and photos to be posted to it. Personalized messages are also delivered, in digital format, as part of the process. Funeral announcements can be sent out as a part of the process as well.
Yahoo Japan states that the Endings service must be signed up for in advance, but doesn't indicate if there's a window when signups would no longer be accepted. The company adds that there are some fees involved, according to the Wall Street Journal. Some of the fees are tied to outside services like making funeral arrangements, discovering burial plots and help with writing wills. Abuse of the service is said to be handled by verifying death by government-issued certificates.
Data left behind has been an issue in the last few years, as people struggle with memories of their loved ones on social media and other community sites. Companies like Facebook have created policies revolving around accounts of the deceased and those trying to access the data. A memorialization request can be put in, that locks down the accounts as they are at the last point of activity. The company was drawn into the spotlight over the way it handled death when a family that requested access to a son's tribute video after his passing was initially declined on grounds of privacy.