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.”