Explained by Common Craft
Mastodon is known as an alternative to Twitter. But that's not the full picture. Mastodon is an example of a different class of social networking tools that are powered by people instead of companies.
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Video Transcript:

You’ve probably heard about an alternative to Twitter called Mastodon. It does similar things but is powered by people instead of a company. To explain why that matters, let’s pretend they are music festivals.

If Twitter was a music festival, it would be the only one in town. You’d get in free at the main gate, create a name tag, and see concerts that Twitter has selected You know a lot of people there and the festival has a free app for following others. It’s a simple idea that people have grown to love.

This festival is surrounded by a fence. Everything inside is owned and managed by a single company: Twitter, Inc. and its goal is to earn a profit. It’s their property and their rules. And if you offend the owner or break a rule, you can get kicked out. With no other options, you’d be stuck You have a good time, but there are ads everywhere, Twitter is watching your every move, and it sometimes feels unsafe.

Now let’s consider Mastodon, which isn’t a company like Twitter. In the real world, Mastodon is open-source software, managed by a non-profit, that anyone can use to host an online community they support and manage. Unlike Twitter, Mastodon is powered the people who use it.

Now let’s consider if mastodon was a music festival. Instead of a huge festival with a single owner, the Mastodon festival makes it easy for people to create and manage their own concerts. Some are private. Some request an application. Most are open to anyone. Unlike the Twitter festival, there’s no fence, no ads, and no one tracking your movements. Investors, advertisers, and CEOs don’t matter. All that matters is communities making their concerts the best they can be.

At first, it looks like a large group of free concerts because there’s no main gate. That’s because each concert is independent and has its own management and rules. The key is knowing they are all connected. To get started, you’ll pick a concert that serves as your home base. Here, you can lay down a blanket, get comfortable, and store your things. The concert is free to fans but does require money to function. Some communities may ask for donations. And if you’d like, you can always make a different concert your home.

Your home concert provides an all-access pass for connecting with other concerts and fans. Since they’re all connected you have lots of options. Like Twitter, free and paid apps make it easy to follow others and learn what’s happening across the festival. The app also has a feed from people who joined your home concert. This means you’re always aware of what’s happening at home and at all the other shows.

Because the Mastodon festival is powered by people, it can evolve and grow to be anything the fans want it to be. In fact, Mastodon isn’t the only festival in town. Other festivals use the same system as Mastodon, which means they recognize your all-access pass. Of course, this isn’t about festivals. We’re really talking about how social media is becoming more people-powered and how you can be a part of that change.

Find your home community at


What it teaches:

We’re used to social networking platforms that are owned and operated by large companies like Twitter. Mastodon is different because it’s not a company that needs to earn a profit. It’s open-source software anyone can use to create an online community that’s self-supported and connected to thousands of other Mastodon communities. This video applies a music festival analogy and teaches:

  • How Mastodon is different from Twitter
  • Why Mastodon has become popular
  • What to expect in using Mastodon
  • How Mastodon users are connected
  • How Mastodon fits into the big picture of decentralization

Video Info:

  • Duration:  03m 51s
  • Captions Available:  YES
  • Lesson Plan:  YES
  • Category:  Technology

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