Steps have been taken to amputate Mark Zuckerberg's name from San Francisco General Hospital. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

San Francisco has taken steps to unfriend Mark Zuckerberg.

The Facebook billionaire’s name currently graces San Francisco General Hospital, where his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan works, after the couple in 2015 gave $75 million to bolster its technology.

On Tuesday, however, Supervisor Aaron Peskin initiated steps to potentially amputate Zuckerberg from the institution.

During roll call at last night’s meeting, Peskin introduced a request to the City Attorney’s office to “revisit the City’s policy on the Acceptance of Gifts in exchange for Naming Rights and, specifically, to outline the procedure for removal of the Zuckerberg name from San Francisco General Hospital.”

This comes on the heels of a New York Times report that Facebook contracted an opposition research firm to flog negative stories about its critics, including billionaire philanthropist and financier George Soros. That report came on the heels of revelations that the private data of some 50 milion Facebook users was obtained by Cambridge Analytica, which was contracted by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign (and others).  And, for good measure, the Times also reported that Facebook was “tinkering with users’ emotions in a news feed experiment,” which sparked protests in May from the hospital’s nurses, who pasted over Zuckerberg’s name on an exterior sign.

“It cannot be considered normal for corporations to hire political consultancy firms to perform opposition research on their critics,” Peskin said at last night’s meeting. “It is not normal for private entities to then use that information to spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories on platforms that they control. It is not normal for [Facebook executives] Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg to refuse to accept responsibility and to publicly distance themselves from acts that they personally instigated. In fact it is abhorrent.”

Peskin noted that while the Zuckerbergs gave $75 million to the hospital, San Francsico residents are paying down the $887 million in bonds underwriting SFGH’s extensive renovation.

Our message to Facebook regarding this matter — and whether Zuckerberg might rescind his donation if the city is successful in excising his name from the hospital — has not been returned. John Coté, a spokesman for the City Attorney’s office, acknowledged that “we have received a publicly disclosed request from a client. We do not have a policy position on the matter.”

The nurses, however, are pleased.

“It seems that S.F. politicians have heard how much the staff and patients actually care about their hospital,” nurse Sasha Cuttler wrote to Business Insider.  “Mark Zuckerberg’s motto to ‘move fast and break things’ was proven correct; the late Mayor Lee moved very fast in renaming the hospital and broke our hearts. Hopefully Facebook will refrain from further violations of our right not to be experimented on without our knowledge and consent.”

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Managing Editor/Columnist. Joe was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left.

“Your humble narrator” was a writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015, and a senior editor at San Francisco Magazine from 2015 to 2017. You may also have read his work in the Guardian (U.S. and U.K.); San Francisco Public Press; San Francisco Chronicle; San Francisco Examiner; Dallas Morning News; and elsewhere.

He resides in the Excelsior with his wife and three (!) kids, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

The Northern California branch of the Society of Professional Journalists named Eskenazi the 2019 Journalist of the Year.

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  1. . “It is not normal for private entities to then use that information to spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories on platforms that they control. ”

    But they didn’t do that. The information they spread was factual. Soros really did fund those groups. Even HuffPost reported it. Just because he’s a jew doesn’t mean negative reporting about him is anti-Semitic. SMH, are there any same people left?

    1. You might want to re-read those stories. The New York Times is available for free on this here Internet.


  2. How can they be so ungreatful to San Francisco? I want to remove that Millenium name on my son’s birth certificate. I hate it and nobody should give him back a penny. Greedy greedy.

  3. What I don’t get is why Peskin hasn’t deleted his account? He says he ‘understands the irony’ complaining about FB on his FB page, but does he really? Is he that fucking hooked?

    I can’t take him seriously on removing the name from General if he doesn’t delete his account.

  4. It never felt quite right. SF General is the best name IMHO. I remember hearing that Zuck never wanted his name on the building but advisors said name on building would encourage others to give $ to public causes.

    1. I think the renaming came after the gift was given, it was Ed Lee doing what he did best, kissing billionaire butts

    1. Exactly — the title of the article should be:

      “General Hospital made be required to refund $75 Million to the Zuckerbergs — Thanks Supervisor Peskin!”

    2. I disagree, a gift is given, you can’t take it back because you don’t like what the recipient did with it.

  5. Good, The people never voted for it. It never should have had Zuck’s name.

    And now with so much dirt on Face, let clean this

    go back to San Francisco General Hospital, or just “General”

  6. The renaming irks me, sure, but for crying out loud, of all the many problems San Franciscans have, this is the one that’s keeping Supervisor Peskin up at night? Patients keep turning up dead in strange places, but Peskin is worried about the sign above the door and not the care being provided inside?

    1. This is a good-sized city with a large budget. We can do two things at once. More, even. This was, is, and will always be a specious argument.

      1. Joe,

        Love your work but respectfully disagree. Maybe you haven’t walked the streets in Peskin’s district (where I live), but there are syringes and feces, and people struggling in the street. Every bit of work Peskin makes public, he applies staff resources to work on. He does not have an unlimited staff. Saying that we can do more than one thing at one = true. That doesn’t mean THIS should be one of those things. Honestly, it’s cosmetic at best, Peskin attempting to curry favor city wide for some vague reason due to what can only be seen as plunging popularity. Until there are valid solutions for the problems in his district, he should leave this alone. We have district elections so that pols can serve their district. Peskin needs to clean his own yard before complaining about his neighbors.

        1. Thanks for the kind words, but this remains a specious argument. By this measure, no supervisor could ever do anything unless every last piece of shit is swept off the curb.

          The amount of time invested here is minuscule. None of this detracts from any efforts to do any of the things you mentioned.

          Also, Peskin, and every other supervisor, has a staff of three. The mayor oversees San Francisco Public Works. Our complaints about the conditions of our streets should be made while cognizant of that.



          1. Hardly a specious argument. Lives are at stake.
            The bottom line is that a donation of $75 million saves lives.

            Trying to place Zuckerberg in the same category as some supervillain is a delusion.

            For that matter, kick Scientology out of the city suince they are deeply involved in borderline illegal critic intimidation.

            If San Francisco sensitivities are so shallow, give the money back and restore the old name.

          2. Whether or not the city is obligated to return the money would likely be among the very first things the City Attorney would determine in this case.



  7. Zuckerberg’s dishonesty and dissembling have made his name totally inappropriate to hang on the side of a hospital. It’s his own fault.

  8. The man gave $75m–leave the name. Peskin–do something worthwhile instead of wasting energy on name changes.

    1. Disagree, 75m is nothing to him and it should not be an ego booster. 75m does not amount to the entire cost of the hospital, it was a small donation in the big scheme of things. Real philanthropists do not put their names on things.