Stephen Bannon
People protest Steve Bannon's White House appointment in Los Angeles, California David McNew/ Getty Images

When Donald Trump won the US presidential election, his victory was cheered on by the alt-right, a loose term for a new breed of far-right conservatives spawned on the internet. Trump's calls for mass deportation of illegal immigrants, a ban on Muslims entering the US, and the construction of a wall along the Mexican border struck a chord with the group.

Following Trump's appointment of Steve Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News, as his chief strategist and senior counsel, the alt-right movement now has a voice in one of the most influential venues in the world – the White House.

What is the alt-right?

The alt-right or 'alternative right', is a group of netizens with far-right ideologies that operate mostly within online forums. They promote the concepts of white nationalism and are associated with white supremacy, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia and anti-feminism.

While its numbers are unknown, the alt-right is generally thought to comprise of a younger, tech-savvy demographic that operate and communicate within forums such as 4chan, Reddit and 8chan.

The group is renowned for using memes and social media as outlets for spreading far-right ideologies. The alt-right's use of the Pepe the Frog meme and triple parenthesis to promote white supremacy led to both being classed as hate speech in the Anti-Defamation League's database of hate symbols.

What does the alt-right believe?

The alt-right rejects mainstream conservatism, believing that it under-represents the interests of white nationalists. They have coined the term 'cuckservative' – a combination of 'cuckold' and 'conservative' – to refer to a form of conservatism which, in their view, promotes the interests of non-whites over those of whites.

Alt-righters identify with a range of far-right ideologies, although all have the concept of white identity at their core. The group rejects the notions of multiculturalism, universalism and egalitarianism, instead promoting the idea of white dominance by preserving a white majority.

According to the Anti-defamation League (ADL): "Though not every person who identifies with the Alt Right is a white supremacist, most are and 'white identity' is central to people in this milieu."

Speaking to IBTimes UK, ADL said: "The alt right is just the latest buzzword employed by classic haters who are attempting to present their hatred as a somehow mainstream. This loose network has exploited the power of social media to spread the messages of hate, but while the tactics may have changed, the bigotry, anti-Semitism and hatred they represent is not as new as the packaging."

Why is the alt-right in the news?

Donald Trump's election as the 45<sup>th US President threatens to bring alt-right beliefs into mainstream US policy following the appointment of Bannon as chief strategist. Breitbart News under Bannon's leadership is partially credited for propelling Trump's presidential candidacy and its association with the alt-right movement.

Bannon himself has referred to the publication as "a platform for the alt-right" and his appointment to the White House has left many worried that he will embolden white supremacists and turn alt-right beliefs into US policy.

At least 120 House Democrats have now signed a letter demanding Donald Trump rescind his appointment of Bannon as chief strategist because of his ties to white nationalism and the alt-right movement.

Twitter has made attempts to curb hate speech on their platform by suspending accounts associated with the alt-right movement.

Most recently suspended was prominent alt-right figurehead Richard Spencer, president and director of the National Policy Institute, which describes itself as an "organisation dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States, and around the world".

Twitter also banned alt-right poster boy and Breitbart tech editor Milo Yiannopolous, alleging he had a role in spurring the online abuse of actor Leslie Jones.