by Michael Cabanatuan. Originally published in SF Chronicle
A committee of San Francisco supervisors on Thursday condemned the naming of San Francisco General Hospital for Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, citing a long list of grievances against the social media giant and claiming its practices endanger public health.
The three-member Government Audit and Oversight Committee voted to condemn the hospital’s name and to develop a better policy for future naming of public facilities. The resolution, which carries no legal mandates, was mostly a statement of opinion by the board — and a chance to bash Facebook. The board is constrained in its contract with Zuckerberg in removing his name from the hospital.
The resolution will go next to the full Board of Supervisors for a vote.
San Francisco General Hospital, founded in 1872, was renamed the Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital in 2015 after the Facebook CEO and his wife contributed $75 million to the hospital’s foundation. The Board of Supervisors approved the name change but some supervisors later opposed the deal as Facebook’s popularity — and notoriety — grew.
Supervisor Gordon Mar said he was moved to publicly condemn the inclusion of Zuckerberg’s name by a long list of public offenses by Facebook. The resolution lists two pages of grievances ranging from the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal and other issues of consumer privacy rights to allowing unchecked false claims on matters including abortion and AIDS prevention medications as well as permitting statements encouraging racial hatred and violence.
On Thursday, Mar added a couple of offenses to the list, including allowing the publication of false, and unchallenged, information about the coronavirus.
“San Francisco’s only public hospital should not bear the name of a person responsible for endangering public health,” he said. “And yet, it does.”
Mar said Facebook “is not reflective of San Francisco values.” Chan and Zuckerberg live in San Francisco and Chan was a pediatric resident at the hospital.
Supervisor Matt Haney thanked Chan and Zuckerberg for their contribution but said the people who work at the hospital, which he called “a jewel of our city … deserve to be proud of the place they go to work every day, deserve it to have a name that represents the work that they do.”
“We have sold off the name of our public health institution to an entity working at cross purposes,” said Tracy Rosenberg of the Protest Facebook Coalition during public comment.
In addition to condemning the naming of the hospital, the resolution also calls for “city departments to establish clear standards with regards to naming rights for public institutions and properties that reflect San Francisco’s values and a commitment to affirming and upholding human rights, dignity, and social and racial justice.”
Kim Meredith, CEO of the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation, said she worried that the resolution “has potential unintended consequences of discouraging future donations.”
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