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SF supervisor Aaron Peskin pushes to remove Zuckerberg name from hospital

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zuckerberg san francisco general hospital protest
Protesters
cover up the word “Zuckerberg” in the sign for Zuckerberg San
Francisco General Hospital in May 2018.

Sasha Cuttler

  • San Francisco supervisor Aaron Peskin has asked the
    city attorney to look into getting Mark Zuckerberg’s name
    removed from a hospital he donated $75 million to.
  • It’s the first time a sitting San Francisco politician
    has called for the removal of the Zuckerberg name, and points
    to the increasing toxicity of the Facebook brand.
  • Earlier this year, nurses at the Zuckerberg San
    Francisco General Hospital protested being attached to the
    CEO’s name.

A San Francisco politician is pushing to have Mark Zuckerberg’s
name removed from the hospital he donated $75 million in response
to Facebook’s recent scandals.

On Tuesday, Supervisor Aaron Peskin asked the city attorney to
“outline the procedure for the removal of the Zuckerberg name
from San Francisco General Hospital,” and to revisit the city’s
policy on offering naming rights in exchange for gifts.


It comes after protests earlier this year by nurses
working
at the Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg San Francisco
General Hospital And Trauma Center — commonly referred to as just
the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital — over the Facebook
CEO’s name being attached to the institution following the
Cambridge Analytica scandal.

“What message does it send when we are willing to brand our
public facilities in exchange for one-time donations, while the
entities behind those one-time donations turn around and oppose
even the most modest taxes, which – when allocated to our general
fund – actually give the citizens of San Francisco oversight for
how those funds are spent,” Peskin said in remarks provided to
Business Insider.

This is the first time a sitting San Francisco supervisor has
spoken out in support of renaming the hospital, Peskin’s chief of
staff said. (Former supervisor John Avalos also called for it to
be changed earlier this year.) It is a sign of the increasing
toxicity of Facebook and Zuckerberg’s brand, and points to how
the consequences of the Silicon Valley giant’s mounting scandals
may impact the CEO’s image.

San Francisco has 11 supervisors, each representing a district,
and they are the city’s legislative body. 

A Facebook spokesperson did not respond to Business Insider’s
request for comment as to whether Zuckerberg would fight the
change. 

“It seems that S.F. politicians have heard how much the
staff and patients actually care about their hospital. 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,” said Sasha Cuttler, a nurse
at the hospital.


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Here are Aaron Peskin’s full comments:

Supervisor Peskin Talking Points for Roll Call for
Introduction – 11/27/2018

CITY ATTORNEY REQUEST – REMOVE ZUCKERBERG NAME

I am also introducing 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.

Over the past couple of weeks, media outlets have reported on the
latest in a steady string of scandals confronting Facebook and
its leadership – namely, that Facebook hired a PR firm to spread
malicious and anti-Semitic attacks against George Soros, which is
a tool directly from the playbook of the most toxic rightwing
conspiracy theory groups – many of which flourish on Facebook’s
own platform.

This latest revelation follows the Cambridge Analytica scandal
earlier this year, wherein it was revealed that peoples’ private
information was being used to fundamentally undermine our system
of democracy. That scandal was the impetus behind the Privacy
First Policy which was on this last November’s ballot, which the
voters passed by a nearly two-thirds margin.

And it follows a report in the New York Times from earlier this
year that Facebook itself was tinkering with users’ emotions in a
news feed experiment, which spawned protests by SEIU workers at
SF General Hospital.

It cannot be considered normal for corporations to hire
political consultancy firms to perform opposition research on
their critics. 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 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.

And it cannot be normal for this City to put a price tag on the
branding of institutions and spaces that fundamentally belong to
the citizens of this City. As a matter of fact, while Mr.
Zuckerberg and Ms. Chan gifted about $75 million dollars in
exchange for these naming rights, the people of this City funded
far more than ten times that via a nearly $900 Million Dollar
bond in 2008 to rebuild the acute care hospital and trauma center
at SF General.

This also gets at a larger issue of the true costs of corporate
charity. And what message does it send when we are willing to
brand our public facilities in exchange for one-time donations,
while the entities behind those one-time donations turn around
and oppose even the most modest taxes, which – when allocated to
our general fund – actually give the citizens of San Francisco
oversight for how those funds are spent.

Whether it’s Facebook, or Amazon whose technology is being sold
to target immigrants at the Mexico-United States border, or Wells
Fargo whose complicity in the home foreclosure crisis and
involvement in the Dakota Access Pipeline have also drawn public
scrutiny – I really want this City to re-assess the value of
giving up these naming rights and the message this sends relative
to our role as stewards of the public trust.

More than just about naming rights, this is about the integrity
of institutions and spaces that are overwhelmingly funded by the
public and which exist to serve the public. I want to thank City
Attorney Herrera for his commitment to pursue this.

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