Can CodePen effectively be used to showcase back-end projects, not just front-end? If not, what's a better web host that should be used to make a back-end portfolio?

(If so, how does it fare with FCC back-end projects as compared to other, more general, and, I guess, more complex back-end projects?)

No, you can only do static front-end pages on CodePen. For back-end project, you can use alternative services like either Netlify or Heroku.

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