Terms of Use


Totem is designed as an educational resource for communities learning about digital security. It is an initiative of Greenhost and Free Press Unlimited. The Totem platform provides a way for content contributors and community users to continuously interact and exchange knowledge throughout the learning process.

The goals of the platform are

  • To improve basic understanding of digital security and related tools for journalists, activists and human rights defenders by creating a safe online classroom environment.
  • To build a safe MOOC based on existing open source software (Open edX) that is co-developed with and usable for digital training organisations, individual trainers and students.
  • To be sustainable through collaboration to ensure the availability of the platform once the initial stage of the project is completed.


Greenhost and Free Press Unlimited

Totem is built on Open edX, an open source educational platform started by edX, an initiative of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) together with the xConsortium. Greenhost and Free Press Unlimited provide Totem as an open source platform in order to ensure the sustainability of this resource, welcoming contributors and communities well beyond the start of the project.

Types of content

Totem platform content is adapted, developed and produced in cooperation with content partner organisations, digital security trainers, and communities. Totem hosts three kinds of content:

  1. Original content developed for Totem by Greenhost and Free Press Unlimited, which is available to all Totem users
  2. Content created by content contributors, which is also available to all Totem users
  3. Community content created by course instructors, which is only available to those participating in the course.

Content standards

  • Original Totem content developed by Greenhost and Free Press Unlimited, together with content partner organisations, is vetted by an advisory board to ensure that it meets content standards or conforms to a set of quality guidelines
  • Community content is the responsibility of course instructors. It can be flagged by users of the platform who want to provide feedback or express a concern over its quality
  • Original and community content has a timestamp to indicate the date it was last updated in order to help contextualise and verify the accuracy of the materials presented.


All content on Totem is licensed under a creative commons attribution share-alike license. This licensing scheme provides autonomy and control to community content contributors while also encouraging collaboration and avoiding the duplication of existing resources.

Totem content partners

Content contributors and course instructors

  • When creating new learning modules, community content contributors choose how long the module should remain online. Content can be temporarily de-activated or set to never expire
  • Community content contributors are expected to periodically review, update or remove modules as they become outdated or outlive their use
  • Community content contributors and course instructors can flag content if they believe there to be an issue with its quality, however the decision to remove material rests with Totem.

Community users

Community users can:

  • See and interact with materials produced by content contributors or given access to by the content contributor and/or course instructor
  • Flag or provide feedback on the curricula.

Community standards

  • Users are expected to contribute to a friendly and respectful environment whenever they use Totem, including its discussion forums, wiki, documentation pages, and learning modules
  • Users invited to participate in closed learning modules do so at the discretion of the course instructors. If course instructors determine that participants are not abiding by community standards, they may choose to terminate their participation.

Unacceptable activities

By enrolling in a Totem course, users may not engage in the following activities through services related to Totem:

  • Use hateful, violent or intimidating language, especially in order to harass, abuse or target other Totem users
  • Store or distribute material that endorses discrimination of any kind
  • Attempt to compromise the anonymity of Totem users by forcing the disclosure of names or other forms of identifying information
  • Misuse of services by distributing viruses or malware, engaging in a denial of service attack, or attempting to gain unauthorised access to the computer systems of the Totem host or Totem users
  • Promote unsolicited commercial services and materials.

Users who experience or observe any of the above behaviour are asked to flag instances thereof with platform moderators by writing to info@totem-project.org. Complaints receive a response within 72 hours.

Accounts found to violate these community standards shall be terminated.