At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Aaron Peskin kicked off an attempt to remove Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg’s name from Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.
Peskin asked the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office to “revisit” rules about naming rights to public institutions, alleging that Facebook’s business practices are unbecoming of a San Francisco public asset.
“Over the past couple of weeks outlets hare reported on the latest in a string of frankly scandalous issues confronting Facebook and its leadership, the most recent being Facebook’s hiring of an infamous PR firm to spread vicious and frankly anti-semitic attacks on George Soros,” said Peskin on Tuesday.
Last week, Facebook acknowledged in a public statement that the company hired Definers Public Affairs to investigate whether Hungarian-born philanthropist George Soros contributed money to an anti-Facebook activist campaign, a charge it had previously denied.
The statement, written by Facebook Head of Communications and Policy Elliot Schrage, denied that Zuckerberg knew anything about the plan.
Peskin also chided Facebook for other scandals, like the revelation that British data firm Cambridge Analytica appropriated Facebook users’ private data to try to influence voters in the 2016 presidential election.
The District 3 supervisor also ran down Facebook as a haven for “the most toxic right-wing conspiracy groups.”
Beyond the matter of just Facebook, Peskin takes exception to the city’s policies about naming rights in general.
“It cannot be normal for the city to put a price tag on spaces that fundamentally belong [to the public],” the supervisor argued, noting that while the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative contributed $75 million to the the hospital, taxpayers financed SF General for many times that.
The 2015 gift was the single largest donation to the hospital since the creation of the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation in 1994, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Late Mayor Ed Lee called the Zuckerberg-Chan contribution “incredibly gracious” and praised the Facebook execs for securing the future of the hospital.
Mission Local reports that nursing staff at SF General, some of whom engaged in protests of Zuckerberg earlier this year, are pleased with the prospect of taking the name back, alleging that Lee “moved very fast in renaming the hospital and broke our hearts.”
The Chan Zuckerberg initiative has not yet returned requests for comment.
[Update: The initiative deferred to Dr. Susan Ehrlich, CEO of SF General, who told Curbed SF, “Naming is an important convention in philanthropy that encourages additional donors, and our hospital relies on the support of the community, the City and County of San Francisco, and generous private philanthropy.
“We are honored that Dr. Chan and Mr. Zuckerberg thought highly enough of our hospital and staff, and the health of San Franciscans, to donate their resources to our mission.”]
- SF Board of Supervisors, 11.27.18 [SF Gov TV]
- FB Definers Statement
- Zuckerberg Name May Be Stripped [MissionLocal]
- Zuckerberg, Chan Give $75 Million [SF Chronicle]
- FB-Cambridge Analytica Explained [NY Times]