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Correa's Online Offensive: A comedian, a president, and a struggle for online expression

Did you hear the one about the British comedian and the Ecuadorian president? Last month comedian John Oliver took a run at Ecuador's President Rafael Correa and his offensive against his online critics. Correa has a weekly TV show, "Enlace Ciudadano", which he uses to discuss the economy, social issues and anything else he likes.

Recently one of "Enlace Ciudadano"'s discussion points has been the people who criticize Correa on social media. In one episode, Correa named and shamed people who had criticized him in their tweets, saying that they were cowards for hiding behind the relative anonymity of social media. He also threatened to identify the person behind a popular blog, who later received intimidating messages and evidence that he and his family were being followed.

Though the thought of a world leader bothering to call out his online detractors seems absurd, it should not be taken lightly. Having taken on the traditional print, TV and radio media in Ecuador, Correa has set his sights on the online realm…and that is no joke.

In the timeline below you can follow a few examples - the case of Crudo Ecuador, Correa's show Enlace Ciudadano and the government's answer to online criticism, Somos Más - to see just how Correa is working to censor the online sphere.

If you are having trouble viewing this timeline, click here for the http version.

Erin Woycik is the IFEX Section Editor for the Americas.

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