ExtentWorld: Making Social Media More Private
Giving users control of their private information is one of ExtentWorld’s biggest goals, says Hang Dinh, co-founder of the social media platform. “When I sat down with my brother and two other senior software engineers, we all agreed that not spying on people the way so many big social media platforms do was especially important to us. That figures heavily into everything we do, and the feedback from our users has been very positive because of it.”
ExtentWorld, founded in 2020, is getting a lot of buzz these days as being the social media site that solves the problems users experience with giants like Facebook. “I think one of the reasons we have been so successful and have users in 25 countries,” Hang says, “is that we get people’s frustration. We’ve been frustrated, too, and we decided to use our technical expertise to give the online world a solution.”
All four co-founders have a background in the industry and graduated from the University of Connecticut with a PhD in computer science and engineering. Hang is a tenured associate professor of computer and information sciences at Indiana University South Bend. “We know how a social media platform should operate,” states Hang, “and we’ve got the know-how to make it happen.”
The origins of ExtentWorld lie with Hang’s brother. “It really bothered me that sites like Facebook exploit our personal data through targeted ads,” he explains. “We knew we could do better and make the industry ethical again.”
“I wasn’t actually on board at first,” Hang said. “I knew that standard social media platforms need at least thirty full-time developers. Then you add in everything my brother envisioned, and that number went up.”
Hang couldn’t shake the idea, however. “It stayed with me because I was teaching a course that discussed privacy policies of social media. Therefore, I was even more aware than the average social media user how far privacy concerns reach. I knew that Facebook tracks your internet browsing history. This completely changed my perspective, as like most people, I simply do not like to be spied on, and I knew my brother was on to something big.”
Hang’s brother, in the meantime, invented two code-generating tools. This enabled ExtentWorld to be developed by just three developers, and as the engineers worked on the new platform, Hang saw how it was different from sites like Facebook. She especially liked its end-to-end encrypted video calling. She could now connect with her family in Vietnam and Germany without concerns about privacy. “I was sold. Once we launched ExtentWorld in 2020, I finally took the big step and deleted my Facebook account.”
To help her brother’s product realize its full potential, she formed ExtentWorld LLC. “That was definitely a step outside of my comfort zone,” Hang remembers. “I read up on forming and running businesses so that I could step in and run the company while my brother focuses on programming and coding.”
ExtentWorld has many capabilities that differentiate it from other social media platforms. One is that a user has one account with up to eight different profiles: public, private, work, academic, dating, merchant, anonymous, and secret. ExtentWorld also provides a dating service with rules that are designed to maximize the user’s privacy.
Information on ExtentWorld is organized based on locations. Each location, such as a city or a country, has a forum where the users interested in that place can view and post. However, for a location at the national level, ExtentWorld restricts free posts to people with a high reputation score.
These features have led to more investors, who may purchase eShare, which is a pre-IPO ExtentWorld common share. ExtentWorld uses eCoin for all transactions within ExtentWorld; eCoin is virtual currency but not cryptocurrency.
Hang sees a big future for ExtentWorld. “I think the social media landscape will continue to be dominated by big players for a while, but we are gaining traction as more people who are tired of their privacy being violated find out about us. Users are becoming more aware of the issues with mainstream social media and are turning to use for the solution. We already have registered users from 25 countries.”
The most challenging task for ExtentWorld’s creators has been marketing. “We are academic and technical people – we can build a good product, but we are not natural marketers. We have had to learn everything about marketing from zero,” Hang states. “In Vietnamese, we have a saying: ‘Vạn sự khởi đầu nan,’ which means ‘All things are difficult before they are easy.’ Thankfully, because of what we have learned, marketing has been becoming easier.”
With better marketing has come more users, and the site is steadily growing. “It was only a matter of time before people said ‘enough,’’ Hang says. “People want control of their private information, and they are coming to us because we’re giving it to them.”