Around 20 activists gathered with signs and megaphones at Mark Zuckerberg’s Mission District home Saturday morning to protest Facebook’s handling of what they call “viral misinformation” threatening democracy.
The police stood across the street from the protest, as people yelled things like “Wake the Zuck up!” and “It’s the people’s hospital, not his.”
It’s unclear if Zuckerberg spends any time at the house on 21st Street.
Although the protest was promoted as a call to take Zuckerberg’s name off ‘Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center,’ it was clear at the protest that the activists’ concerns with Facebook went far beyond the naming of the hospital.
A man dressed like Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg wore a mask with Zuckerberg’s face on it while sweeping the sidewalk in front of his gated home, a metaphor for the belief that Zuckerberg has been sweeping misinformation under the rug.
Activists also put up signs reading, “TRUTH MATTERS.”
One of these activists is the executive director of Media Alliance, Tracy Rosenberg, a resident of the East Bay.
Rosenberg said Facebook is “not resourcing and financing fast fact-checking and [is] not consulting civil rights groups about what hate speech is.”
Rosenberg said that she is especially concerned about the microtargeting algorithms the platform uses to collect personal information about the likes and preferences of users. Facebook makes that information available to organizations placing political ads.
“Microtargeting for political ads should be very basic: geographic region, gender, age,” she said. “It should not include things such as whether or not you have clicked on tags for coronavirus conspiracy theories or climate change denial.”
Michael Petrelis, who often runs for the District 9 BART Board, was dressed in rainbow-colored clothes and held up a papier–mâché Donald Trump figurine that said, “lock him up.” Petrelis, who lives in the Mission with his husband, said he is “very upset with the anti-democratic policies of Facebook.” Asking Facebook to take down lies is not censorship, explains Petrelis.
A friend of Petrelis, activist Andrea Buffa, was at the protest on behalf of the Protest Facebook Coalition. Buffa believes it is important for San Francisco to go on the record saying “our public health medical institution should not have Zuckerberg’s name on it, since he spreads lies.”
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors Governmental Oversight committee will vote on a resolution sponsored by Supervisors Gordon Mar and Matt Haney to condemn the naming of San Francisco General Hospital after Zuckerberg at their next meeting on Thursday, December 3.