Webhosting, Cancel Culture and Christ

A strange name for an article about what clients want on their webpages,and what we as webhosts might refuse to host.

Let's start with a declaration about the Suttons' stance on free speech, freedom of thought and wokery.

SuttonNet and the Suttons are irrevocably opposed to unwarranted, overbearing interference of technocrats, corporations, government, bureaucracy, academia, self-appointed experts, powermongers or anyone else in the lives, minds and freedoms of other people.

We are disgusted by cancelling, victimhood parades, manipulation, snowflakery and political correctness. We abhor how some presume to redefine our language, like a corps of Humpty Dumpties:

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.'

Lewis Carroll, 1871: Through the Looking Glass

That's NOT what SuttonNet's website content policy is about. SuttonNet is happy with controversial content of many persuasions. We expect that clients will publish content that we don't hold with. That's fine as long as it is clean, reasonably researched, presented fairly , and is respectful to people you disagree with.

Our content policy

Our Development & Hosting Agreement covers webpage content requirements for all websites hosted on our server.

Obviously, content that is defamatory, in breach of copyright, pornographic or otherwise illegal is out. As for other content: it's not our intention to censor websites for manipulative political purposes, to control thought, or as a PC crusade; but we do have limits to what we allow to be published on our server. It's a matter of conscience.

Your freedom of speech matters. So does our freedom of conscience. You're free to publish what you will on your own website - but maybe not while it's utilising our services.

Our viewpoint

The Suttons believe we are answerable for how we use our resources, skills and time, to a loving God who has clear, trustworthy guidelines as to right and wrong behaviour by human beings. We stand for personal responsibility of every human being for their own actions and inactions.

People, & thus the businesses that they operate, have inherent responsibilities and privileges. Freedom is one. Freewill and freedom of conscience are foundational responsibilities/rights.

Under freedom of speech, are people free to proclaim anything? Yes and no, in our view.

  • Yes, in the sense that humans always have freewill to choose to hold any opinion and to declare it.
  • No, if you mean that people can say or write anything without possible consequences.
  • No, in the sense of being 'equally entitled to hold any opinion, however contrary to facts and logic it is'. Truth matters. There are laws against libel and perjury.

Not all opinions, beliefs & statements are good or even neutral. Witness the outcomes of Nazis' & Stalin's thoughts in the 20th century.

'Regulating' content

It's our freedom of conscience that causes us to place limits on acceptable content on the websites that we host.

Because these sites use our server, our skills and (usually) our software, we believe we are (partly) responsible to God for the availability of content our clients publish. Legally we might not be, but spiritually we see it that way.

If we believe that your published content will have really bad consequences, we will class it as unacceptable content and take action. Normally that means we contact you, discuss the issue and ask you to edit or remove the troublesome page(s) within the next 48 hours.

If we can't contact you in time, we might temporarily suspend a webpage, or delete or temporarily edit content, pending your own editing. If you use Bizazz or Bizmaker software, a copy of the original remains accessible to you. If not: it is up to you to retain copies of content that you publish online; eg choose web software which will do this for you.

Acceptable or not?

General guidelines

SuttonNet's rule of thumb is that content must be 'fit for a child to view or listen to'. We judge this from the traditional Christian/Biblical viewpoint. Of course some websites cover topics that no child should or would read; for those sites, the tone needs to be non salacious and the purpose pure.

By doing business with us, you accept our limitations on acceptable content. If you want to publish stuff online that we don't accept: you are free to take your website and its content to another hosting service which has a different code of conduct. Or you can lease your own web server and host your site yourself.

If you aren't sure that your planned website content is acceptable to SuttonNet, ask us.

In the event of disagreement between client and SuttonNet over acceptability of content: the final decision is ours, because this provision in our hosting Agreement is about our consciences, not yours.


If your website allows comments/posts: vet 3rd party posts before you publish them. Our content standards apply to posts as well as to your own content. Safely check any links in the posts too.

Monitoring posts on your website is commonsense. Your site could lose credibility or even attract attention from law enforcement if blog comments are abusive or libellous, or if they link to porn sites, infected websites or terrorist propaganda.

In practice

Content interventions by SuttonNet have been mostly in response to:

  • inadvertent copyright or other legal breaches;
  • out of date information;
  • typo's and grammatical errors.

Acting on these matters helps our clients' sites remain relevant and useful online.

We don't supervise every page on every website that we host. That would be ridiculous, unless clients paid us a premium.

In our daily work though, we get to know our clients' websites fairly well. We apply our content standards with a light hand and with patience, valuing your freedoms.

  • If you can't write without the F-word, expect correction.
  • If your online claims are way out of whack with evidence you have presented (or not presented), we might notice one day and challenge you about it.
  • If your website content departs from our Christian worldview so much that we are very uncomfortable hosting it: we will discuss this with you.
  • Worst case scenario: we/you decide that this client-host relationship isn't workable, and we ask you to host your site elsewhere. We would then terminate the Hosting Agreement in accordance with its terms.

SuttonNet & cancel culture


Is there a difference between SuttonNet's content policy and actions of Big Tech to cancel social media accounts, ban videos, hide 'fake news', delete websites, trounce opposition platforms that allow the content they banned, &c?

We believe there is. Motives matter. Principles matter. SuttonNet wants to foster truth seeking and to encourage thoughtful, useful discussion by our content policies; not to restrict these.

The Suttons are in a delicate position, balanced (as Jesus' followers have always been) between sliding into freedom/licentiousness on one hand (an abuse of grace & forgiveness), and hyper-control on the other (legalism - an abuse of law & order). We all get it wrong sometimes, even when we're trying to do right.

Facts of life in an information age
  1. People are entitled to access information and commentary, and to make wise informed decisions about matters which affect us, our society and our children. We're all responsible to make decisions, and we need grist to our mill.
  2. As for discerning which 'facts' are really facts and which conclusions are well grounded - we've all been given brains. As adults, it is our responsibility to use them. Pre-mushed food (& information) is for infants. If all our intellectual food comes packaged and filtered, people never grow our own capacity to judge wisely.
  3. Every webpage, video, book, newspaper etc reflects somebody's interests, worldviews and opinions (fairly held or not). They might be the views of an editor, website owner, guest writer, advertisers, or some other entity which exerts influence in secret or openly via cash, coercion or favours.
  4. Business owners and their employees have responsibilities. Among them are integrity, honesty and consistency: to treat clients and site users fairly under their rules. Even the biggest corporation is comprised of people; no business is exempt from morality.
Big Tech

Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, etc, and the mainstream media are information sources, whether reliable or not.

What kinds of information do they present or omit, and why? It's up to those who use and even trust such online services to find out, or at least to be wary.

Corporations (being made of people, and owned by people) favour certain political and social causes. Like individuals, they can aver their preferences graciously or not. They can label the 'others' as liars, inciting violence, abusive, racist etc. Big Tech has enormous power to attach labels - 'hate speech', 'fake news', 'misinformation' &c - which will be seen/heard by millions.

Ownership & authority

Let's look at Facebook as an example. It is a 'platform' run on a specific website and Facebook servers. Facebook owns that website, including 'your' Facebook page.

In our view:

  • Facebook has legitimate authority to limit the content that goes on its own website and its own servers, which Facebook pays for and keeps operational;
  • that caveat should be made plain to users - account owners & site visitors. Then they all know that some information or viewpoints might be 'missing' from Facebook posts, or less prominent;
  • Facebook should be open about its editorial preferences (left-leaning, right wing conservative, atheist, postmodern, progressive....). Then users can be aware of which topics or contributors are liable to have been edited. That's fair and honest dealing.
Fair questions for online platforms & services
  1. Does the service make their restrictions on content/posts clear to users?
  2. Does it, to the best of its ability, apply its terms of service consistently across all accounts?
  3. For services that use content checkers to vet and bar posts/accounts: what guidelines govern the checkers? Are the guidelines open or secret? Do they change? Who funds the 'fact checkers'?
  4. Why does the service ban content or suspend user accounts, when it does?
  5. If an account owner protests a decision, is there a fair, fast appeal process? Are controversial cases not reviewed until they are politically less potent?
Track record for Big Tech: our experience

SuttonNet has witnessed Big Tech block, or make access difficult for, content on certain topics; but only from the conservative/small government/non-socialist side of debate.

We're personally aware of content being deleted from public view, despite strong supporting evidence:

  • multiple, published and peer reviewed studies;
  • statements by experts in the relevant fields with no financial incentives.

Mainstream media has deleted our comments where these questioned the 'facts' presented and/or offered links to other data or interpretations.

We've seen social media & an online payment service suspend accounts without discussion or explanation. The suspensions occurred after posts/payments likely to be at odds with the corporate owner's political views.

Writers whose content is cancelled (eg a website is suddenly deleted) are not just restricted from publishing specific content on a specific platform. They have been labelled as bigots, murderers, dangerous purveyors of fake news, etc. They may be 'cancelled' not just from the service where the offending content appeared, but as widely as accumulated Big Tech can influence information flow.

We don't disagree with any provider's freedom to offer its own services for use in ways that it sees fit. We do question the apparent secrecy and arbitrariness of restrictions. We wonder at joint actions across platforms; judgments made on shifting ground (what is 'hate speech' this week?); and decisions made despite supporting evidence.

Good or bad?

You tell if a tree is good or bad by its fruit.

Big Tech alleges that its removal of content is done 'for the public good'. Yet actions like those above hinder fair discussion, debate and research. They create a fear of posting certain content in case of being 'cancelled'. They suggest a uniform 'public opinion' which does not exist.

Big Tech's actions, like those of highly controlling States, silence dissent rather than encouraging intelligent and informed debate. The list of verboten comments grows longer. Their actions assert superior, 'correct' knowledge by Big Tech that cannot be questioned, covering many fields of human endeavour and enquiry which they really have no authority in: science, medicine, history...

What will be thefruit of this? In our view, not peace or freedom or creativity or life.

Do you think that our content policy is like Big Tech's? If so, please tell us why and we'll re-consider the matter. This is a weighty thing, difficult to put into words and very important to us.

Diane Sutton

Last updated 1st January 2022