CNN has announced that it has identified the person who created the Gif that depicts President Donald Trump clotheslining a person with the cable news logo superimposed on his head.The GIF was used by Trump in a tweet, It reports that the network has extracted an apology from the prankster and that he has taken down this and a number of other offensive GIFs. CNN has agreed not to publish the personal information of the person, though it reserves the right to do so “should any of that changes.” The cable network has created a social media firestorm as a result of its action,

The clotheslining Gif

The controversy started when President Donald Trump posted a Tweet with the GIF of him attacking the figure representing CNN.

The cable network accused the president of encouraging violence against journalists. Others pointed out that Trump was trolling CNN and maintained that the network was overreacting.

CNN finds the culprit

CNN announced that it had located an identified an internet prankster who only goes by the handle “HanA---holeSolo.” The network claimed that the person had created a number of offensive, racist and anti-Semitic GIFs but had taken them down when confronted. The unknown prankster has made a lengthy, profuse apology and has promised never to do it again. He noted that Trump had used his GIF without asking permission. CNN agreed not to publically identify the person, but concluded its report with a chilling statement, “CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.”

#CNNBlackmail social media firestorm rages

The announcement has caused a social media firestorm under the hashtag “#CNNBlackmail” with numerous people criticizing the network’s threat and uploading their own images and mobile GIFs depicting figures representing CNN being savaged by President Trump.

Some have accused CNN of threatening to “Dox” the unknown internet prankster, a practice of publishing the personal information of a target to expose him to humiliation and perhaps worse.

CNN has already undergone considerable criticism for pursuing the Russian collusion story far and beyond its newsworthiness. Trump has used the network as a foil, suggesting that it is a purveyor of “fake news” and calling it the “Fake News Network.” Now, in the view of many, CNN has done something far worse.

It has reached out to a private person who used the Internet to mock it and has threatened to harm him unless he backs down and becomes silent.

Doxxing is considered unethical at best in journalistic circles. Some legal analysts have suggested that the practice may be illegal, depending on whether harm comes to the target as a result. In any case, CNN has caused itself a public relations nightmare.