Conservative Treehouse, a popular right-wing website operated by a person under the pseudonym “Sundance” announced a couple of days ago that WordPress gave them notice that they would need to find a new hosting service for the site due to unspecified violations of the agreed-upon terms of service. Sundance operates on Twitter under the name “@theLastRefuge2”. Here is what he posted:
The Treehouse is Deplatformed… https://t.co/A6aJRKuM2c
— TheLastRefuge (@TheLastRefuge2) November 15, 2020
Here is some of what Sundance wrote on the website:
What was our violation? After ten years of brutally honest discussion, opinion, deep research and crowdsourcing work -with undeniable citations on the events we outline- there is no cited violation of any term of service because CTH has never violated one.
The WordPress company is not explaining the reason for deplatforming because there is no justifiable reason for it. At the same time, they are bold in their position. Perhaps this is the most alarming part; and everyone should pay attention. They don’t care.
The website is very popular judging by the number of comments that have posts log each day. He reports that the site receives between 500,000 and 1 million unique page views each day, and he has 200,000 subscribers. I have no reason to question those numbers, and they are impressive for the space he occupies.
Sundance is provocative in some of the reporting he does, and the “turns” he takes in some of his analysis has often caused me to step back and reconsider some of my own thoughts and ideas.
We have tangled a few times on Twitter, and I have been critical of what I see as jumps in logic or unwarranted assumptions/conclusions that he sometimes needs to reach what seems like a predetermined destination. But that boldness is what gets him to some thought-provoking outcomes ahead of the pack.
Sometimes it leads him down rabbit-holes. Other times it leads to what might be epiphanies for others.
The immediate problem for Sundance is the security of the content he has developed during the decade that the site has been hosted by WordPress. I suspect he won’t have much difficulty in securing a new hosting service, but making that transition in a seamless fashion might be problematic.
I’m not sure I would categorize WordPress as “big tech” because it is open-source software and run by a foundation, not any sort of corporate enterprise. But it is quite troubling that any hosting service would deplatform a site based on political content and point of view — there doesn’t seem to be any obvious reason to conclude that WordPress has another motivation for its action. Sundance might advance arguments and theories not in the mainstream of conservative thinking — which I think is a feature of his analysis and writing — but nothing on his site constitutes any kind of “threat” that would warrant the kind of action that WordPress is taking.
It is nice to see that what’s happening to Sundance isn’t escaping notice. The Washington Examiner has a story today on what is happening and notes that news of the deplatforming caught the attention of Rep. Devin Nunes who used it to urge conservatives to move away from Facebook and Twitter – with an announcement made by him on Parler.
So, while this is a difficult turn of events for The Conservative Treehouse, it’s also something that conservative social media sites need to be diligent about monitoring to make sure no pattern develops in this regard. At the same time, actions such as this will likely drive the move by conservatives away from the tech companies that so willingly engaged in content-based censorship for the benefit of Joe Biden in the run-up to the election.
Look for deep-pocketed interests on the GOP side to begin investing into media properties that cater to the 70+ million voters who saw what was done to Pres. Trump the last six months.
I hear CNN is for sale.