How should we go about managing our online body after the real one shuts down? What'll happen to our social media accounts or emails?
As the generation born in the digital age also ages, so would our concerns. For now, Yahoo! Japan may give everyone, especially Japan’s quite famously aging population, a solution with Yahoo! Ending. It’s the first comprehensive digital end-of-life service provided by a company already trusted with personal information. What’s entailed? Quite a lot, actually.
Let them know you're dead
For 180 yen (roughly S$2) a month, Yahoo! Ending will let users close their accounts and have a message sent to a pre-chosen list of 200 friends or family announcing your death, once certified. The service will also suspend any automatic bill payments made through the connected Yahoo! Japan wallet service.
There are a few morbid frills as well. For example, the service could help you find the right cemetery or shop for the right coffin and even help you estimate the cost of funeral arrangements. There will be a forum (a Yahoo board, I imagine) that will serve as a memorial and allow users to post some final goodbyes.
So far, none of the big Internet names really make as much of an effort as this. Facebook only goes as far as making memorial videos of the deceased. Google, meanwhile, lets you deactivate inactive accounts but it's clearly not primarily aimed at cleaning up the accounts of the dearly departed. Since Yahoo! is itself within that pantheon, and not a third-party operation, Ending should have a good chance at gaining the elder generation’s trust.
Yahoo spokesperson Megumi Nakashima says the service may expand to allow further post-mortem management. The service may be able to communicate with the user’s credit-card companies to have their cards cancelled.
These services will do much to avoid identity theft; as such left-behind accounts are the low-hanging fruit for the hacker, the profit-seeking corporation and the fraudulent government body alike.
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