Yahoo Japan launched a new service uniquely designed to serve the country’s large population of elderly people, by tidying up their digital footprints after they die.
Called Yahoo Ending, the service enables users to close their Yahoo Japan account, and have a final message sent to up to 200 pre-registered email addresses of family and friends, once their death has been confirmed.
In addition to erasing any data in the account, Yahoo Ending — which costs 180 yen (about $1.77) per month — can stop automatic bill payments made through the Yahoo Japan wallet service.
Loved ones can also visit a special bulletin-board page for the deceased, and post memorial messages. Prior to death, the service even helps users search for a cemetery, and can estimate the cost of funeral arrangements.
There are multiple U.S. services that handle a person’s digital footprint after death, but as third-party operations, a lack of trust could make some hesitant to adopt these services. With Yahoo Ending, however — which is operated by a company the user already trusts with his or her data — such concerns will likely be allayed.
For its part, Facebook has been monitoring the post-life digital-presence space, and even modified its policies in February to offer memorial videos of deceased members. Similarly, although not specifically targeted at the deceased, Google’s Gmail service offers a tool called Inactive Account Manager, which lets users automatically delete their account after a set time-out period.
In an interview with The Japan Times, Yahoo Japan spokesperson Megumi Nakashima said future updates of the service may go even further, allowing the deceased to manage their post-life affairs on non-Yahoo Japan services.
“For example, we are thinking of partnering with credit-card companies,” Nakashima said, “so that the user can configure Yahoo Ending to tell such companies to close out the user’s account.”