Hang Dinh, co-founder of ExtentWorld, believes social media itself is not the problem – it’s the companies behind it. “There is nothing wrong with people wanting to express themselves online,” she says. “The problem is the companies who create the platforms. They have policies that allow users’ privacy to be exploited. They also allow misinformation and hate speech. At ExtentWorld, we support free speech, of course, but online bullying and the deliberate spread of false or inaccurate information is different. That’s why we made our platform to address these issues and others. We are redesigning how social media should be done, and our users are happy with our platform.”
ExtentWorld is the product of four computer software engineers, all of whom have PhDs, who wanted to present the world with a better way to do social media. “We all agreed that in different ways, the online experience has become toxic,” Hang says. “My brother, who originally had the idea for this platform, was frustrated in particular that he couldn’t go look at a book on a website without then seeing an ad for it on his Facebook feed. We all agreed with him that this is basically the same as spying.”
In the beginning, Hang liked her brother’s vision for ExtentWorld but could see a problem with it. “We were going to need too many developers!” she says, remembering. “Regular sites need at least thirty, and what my brother had in mind was going to need a whole lot more than that. That’s the only reason I hesitated.”
To solve this issue, Hang’s brother invented two code-generating tools that enabled the platform to be developed by just three developers. “That was amazing,” she said, “ and it went a long way towards getting me on board. What ultimately got me to buy in was that as a professor who taught about social media, I knew there were huge privacy issues. For example, Facebook tracks your internet browsing history. I could see that ExtentWorld was a solution to this, so I came onto the project.”
Hang would go on to form ExtentWorld LLC. “I did this because I believed in my brother’s amazing product. One of its best features is the user’s ability to make end-to-end encrypted video calling. This was important to me because I can now connect with my family in Vietnam and Germany without concerns about privacy. This is one of the biggest reasons I deleted my Facebook account.”
ExtentWorld has many other 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.
ExtentWorld’s monetizing feature is especially intriguing: viewers are paid for viewing ads; they can also set the viewing prices for their own posts by clicking on the “Set View Price” button. To see posts, links, videos, and comments in a post, viewers must pay 80% of the price to the content’s creator while ExtentWorld gets the remaining 20%.
These unique 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.”
In the time since ExtentWorld was launched, Hang has seen the platform grow daily. “It’s what gives me hope for our future, to be honest,” she says. “Privacy is fundamental to a human being, or it should be. Now is the time to start taking back your information. The big social media platforms are not the only options out there. You don’t have to use them. You can come to ExtentWorld and regain power over your online life.”