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By Amber Randall

A Salon write-up warned of the growing threat of alt-right memes, saying they potentially pose a bigger threat to American democracy than “fake news.”

Pennsylvania State University professor Sophia A. McClennen argued that President Donald Trump’s tweeting of a CNN gif demonstrates the influence of the alt-right in the national conversation about American politics. (RELATED: Media Horrified After Trump Tweets Video Body-Slamming CNN)

“But the real story here is not about Trump; it’s about the increasing power and presence of alt-right communication on various social media platforms, from Twitter to YouTube to Reddit to Facebook,” McClennen notes.

Americans should be worried about the use of alt-right memes and posts, not only because of their “violence,” but because of how they carry more weight than fake news, McClennen said.

“What is interesting is the way that rants and memes and other alt-right tirades have major success in shaping public opinion. And while there is a through line between these outbursts and fake news, it is important to point out that the rants are likely far more influential than fake news in shaping political perception,” McClennen writes.

CNN needs to realize that the American public is getting their information from these sources and fight against it, not Trump.

“What this week’s Trump Twitter war against the mainstream news media teaches us is that CNN should be worried — but not about Trump’s attacks, rather about the fact that an increasing number of U.S. citizens are forming their political ideas based on alt-right rants, and not on anything that even remotely resembles information,” McClennen points out.

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