In a recent hoax, online newspaper the Costa Rica Star deliberately published false and misleading information about immigration regulations in Costa Rica. The article upset many expats who have property, businesses and family in Costa Rica, but who have otherwise struggled with immigration rules. A day after its publications, the “editors” of the Costa Rica Star posted a note, admitting that it was false and done to educate readers on the dangers of taking advice from the Internet, and in this case their own “news” publication.
The hoax, which actually is a plagiarized article from four year ago, demonstrates how a publisher can abuse the trust it has developed with it readers. In past we have tended to think of paper publications as having credibility. This incident is seemingly supposed to undermine our trust in the Internet and small, independent publications.
On close inspection the Costa Rica Star seems like a legitimate news organization. They have advertisers who are real businesses with real reputations. These include Croc’s Casino Resort in Jaco, and attorney Jose Alfredo Campos of respected law firm of Lex Counsel in San José. Real estate agent broker Mari Brenes of Palm Real Estate also has a large, banner ad on the Costa Rica Star.
The Costa Rica Star also carries banner advertisements for the Tico Times Directory and the radio program, This Week in Costa Rica by Corey Ryan Coates.
Although the Costa Rica star does provide a physical address on its website, it does not provide detailed biographies of its contributors. It also fails to identify an editor.
Internet DNS records reveal that the parent domain is owned by one Enrico Cacciatore of the firm, Inversiones Italo Enca S.A. with an address near Plaza Mayor in San José. The technical contact is Adrian Eden, who provides an address in Escazu. This information is of public record, and available to anyone with an Internet connection.
Nic.cr does not allow transfer of ownership of domains, therefore the domain is still in my name an Eden is the technical contact to give him control until such time nic.cr does allow transfers.
-According to a statement from Mr. Cacciatore, he sold the domain to Adrian Eden and no longer is responsible for its content.
The identify of Marcel Evens, the supposed author of the article is a bit more ambiguous. He may indeed be a real person, one of the Star’s own “citizen journalists”, or perhaps he is an alias invented by its publishers. The question is important because a note on the webpage asserts the article as an opinion of author, and not of the newspaper.
The advertisers, and reputable people who have their names attached to the Costa Rica Star should remember that in business, credibility is everything. Without trust and integrity, businesses deals are in jeopardy and customers do not feel safe. When publishers engage in unethical behavior, then it reflects poorly on the reputations of everyone connected with them.
For this reason, I have prepared an online petition, directed as those who advertise with the Costa Rica Star. It asks that the advertisers end their support for the newspaper. I am asking those who believe what Costa Rica Star did is wrong to sign the petition.