Aether: What It Is and How to Join It

A peer-to-peer app with an interesting take on privacy, public communities, and self-governance

Aether is a distributed, peer-to-peer discussion platform similar to Reddit, but with a stronger focus on privacy, resisting censorship, and giving more control to users. Because Aether's platform is peer-to-peer, each user is a publisher and server unto themselves, giving them maximum control over what's published, what they see, and what communities they join. This article explains Aether, looks at how to sign up and what it costs, and how Aether compares to Reddit and Twitter.

What Is Aether?

A screenshot of the Aether app on a Mac

Aether is a discussion platform similar to Reddit and Twitter (though moreso Reddit), that uses peer-to-peer technology to avoid censorship and provide high levels of user control.

The best way to understand how Aether is similar to, and different from Reddit and Twitter, is to think of the platforms as houses.

Twitter is built on a foundation, with one giant room on top of it. Everyone is that room, talking to each other. Reddit has a foundation, with many different rooms built on top of it, and you can go from one room to the next and take part in the conversations happening in each.

Aether doesn't have one big room/unified conversation like Twitter. It's more like Reddit: it has many different, smaller rooms built where conversations happen. But there's also a key difference.

Unlike Reddit or Twitter, users don't post content to Aether. Because Aether is peer-to-peer, users post messages on their own computers and that content is available via the app for discovery and sharing. On Reddit and Twitter, users post their content to centralized servers owned and maintained by those companies.

Aether is intended for a much more technical audience. It's best for people who know what "globs" or stars are when it comes to allow-lists for domains, and who understand crypto and blockchain well enough to grasp the explanation of why Aether isn't based on the blockchain.

Aether Pro

The company touts Aether Pro, "a private, team-based version of Aether as a collaboration tool, like Slack." This version of the platform offers live chat rooms, structured discussion threads, email newsletters, and more. However, nothing on the site indicates what it costs or how to sign up for it.

How Many People Use Aether?

The company doesn't publish this information. In a 2021 interview with a co-founder of the platform, he said Aether has about 2,000 users. By contrast, Reddit claims 52 million users.

As of this writing, no Aether community has more than 79 subscribers, and the majority have under 30 users. The last post on the company's web-based forum is from March 2022, though at least one new post per day has appeared in the app for almost every day in 2023.

Does Aether Use the Blockchain?

Aether does not use blockchain. For the technical reader, Aether provides a long, very detailed explanation of the technology used to create and operate the platform.

How Do I Join Aether? 

Joining Aether is easy: Just download the peer-to-peer desktop app (it's available for Windows, Mac, and Linux).

After downloading and installing the app, launch it and follow the onscreen prompts. You can create an account or go without one.

The app offers Popular and New posts, somewhat like Reddit. You can also browse or search for subs, which are smaller communities for a specific topic or interest.

Are There Costs for Aether?

Aether is a free service. It doesn't even have ads.

While the app and website both mention that users can support the platform via Patreon, those links are broken and a search at Patreon doesn't return anything relevant.

How Does Aether Compare to Reddit and Twitter?

Aether vs. Reddit and Twitter

  • A set of related communities

  • Posts automatically disappear after 6 months

  • Privacy focused: "Aether strives to know as little identifying information as possible about you"

  • Uses Creative Commons BY-SA license for all content, meaning posters surrender some rights to their work

  • Decentralized: No central control, content moderation, or servers that can be shut down

  • No algorithms: users control exactly what they see

  • Usernames are not unique

Reddit and Twitter
  • A single, monolithic platform with communities

  • Posts stay public forever, unless the poster deletes them

  • Collects user data for ad targeting, among other purposes

  • While the platforms claim some rights to posted content, posters maintain copyright

  • Centralized: The companies maintain control over content, operations, and infrastructure

  • Algorithmic delivery of content (on Twitter)

  • Unique usernames


Aether may be of interest to a certain kind of user. The promise of a decentralized, unmoderated discussion space is just what some people are looking for. However, with such a small user base, it remains to be seen if the service catches on with more people. As of right now, its small user base can't come close to matching the breadth of Reddit or Twitter.

  • Who owns Aether?

    Aether is a privately held company based in California. It was founded by Benedict Lau.

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