ExtentWorld is the Solution for Social Media Users Concerned About Their Privacy
Is it unethical for social media sites to use your personal data to put targeted ads on your page? The co-founders of ExtentWorld think so, and they were so bothered by this lack of privacy and other issues that they founded their platform to present social media users with a new way to communicate online. As Hang Dinh, one of ExtentWorld’s co-founders, says, “There was nothing to stop us from stepping up and challenging Facebook and other intrusive platforms. We analyzed the issues people experience with those platforms, and we solve them with ExtentWorld.”
ExtentWorld was founded in 2020, and users in 25 countries are enjoying the efforts of four software engineers. “We all have a PhD in computer science and engineering from the University of Connecticut,” Hang says, “and I also use my background as a tenured associate professor of computer and information sciences at Indiana University South Bend.”
The beginning of ExtentWorld came when Hang’s brother got frustrated with Facebook, which uses personal data to create targeted ads. “I thought that was a violation of our privacy, and I wanted to create a platform that would respect the privacy of the user,” he says. “I told my sister about it. She wasn’t convinced at first because she knew that even the simplest of platforms require thirty full-time developers.”
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.”
Today, it is exciting to watch as ExtentWorld grows around the world. “We are finding people everywhere who want to communicate online but keep control of their private information,” Hang says. “ExtentWorld is accomplishing everything we set out to do.”