In the past several years, many websites have popped up, offering services such as leaving messages behind to be sent posthumously and/or services to manage the many online accounts we all leave behind.
Google was the first company to offer an in-house solution, not via a third-party (although not a complete, whole solution), when it launched its Inactive Account Manager service in April 2013.
Yahoo! is now the second company to offer an in-house solution, although in Japan only.
According to a Wall Street Journal blog entry, the service:
"Sends out digital farewell messages and deletes personal data from the Internet corporation’s online system once it is confirmed that the user has passed away".Other parts of this service include:
"Helping one prepare for one’s own funeral and providing the basics on writing a last will. Activating the service terminates any billing charged to Yahoo’s digital wallet, and deletes all texts and images one has saved on Yahoo Box online storage. Those who sign up can also create a “memorial space” tribute site that launches after the user’s death is confirmed, where visitors can leave condolences after they learn about the passing. The memorial page can include a bio, photos, video clips, final messages and an invitation to one’s funeral".Some of these services require a fee.
Their signing up slogan is: “If this is your last day of life, are you prepared to leave?” - which is a very good question.
Yahoo!'s international policy regarding a deceased user is the strictest among all the international websites / platforms / suppliers we all use:
"Yahoo cannot provide passwords or access to deceased users' accounts, including account content such as email".Posthumous access will not be granted to anyone, under any circumstances, regardless of their family ties with the deceased. The only thing they do offer is to close his or her account.
(If you wish for no one to access your account after your death that is absolutely fine and your wish should be respected as it is a legitimate one. However, most people simply do not think about this, and their loved ones are left to ponder if they should enter the many online accounts we leave behind or not, and if yes, how).
It will be interesting to see now if other companies will follow in Google and Yahoo! footprints and supply their users with in-house solutions, and it will be interesting to see if Yahoo! will offer this new service outside of Japan.