Mark Zuckerberg smiles looking into the distance

City Officials Condemn Naming City Hospital After Mega Donor Mark Zuckerberg

San Francisco's board of supervisors accused Zuck and Facebook of endangering public health via COVID-19 misinformation.

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This week, the San Francisco board of supervisors voted on a resolution condemning the naming of the Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center. The measure, which is symbolic only, was voted on 10 to 1, urged 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.”

This comes in response to massive endowment of $75 million given to San Francisco General Hospital, the city’s only public hospital, by Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan. Chan worked as a pediatrician at the hospital at the time of their donation in 2015. Many took umbrage with the move thanks to Zuckerberg and Facebook’s refusal to remove medical misinformation from the social media giant.

Like all of their community guidelines, Facebook has repeatedly struggled to act against anti-vaxxer misinformation, as well as COVID and coronavirus related misinformation.

This is in addition of course, to Facebook’s monopolistic threat to social media at large, its refusal to deplatform hate speech, and its very real threat against democracy.

Gordon Mar, the lead sponsor of the measure, said that “San Francisco’s only public hospital should not bear the name of a person responsible for endangering public health in our country and around the world — and yet it does … These are policy choices, and they have a body count.”

Fellow supervisor Matt Haney added, “We’re of course thankful for the gift and we’re thankful for any gift to our most important institutions during this time, … But that doesn’t mean that we should for forever essentially have given away advertising rights on this most essential public institution.”

Meanwhile, Kim Meredith, the head of the hospital’s foundation, called the donation a “heartfelt gift” and a “a model of care,” saying “This resolution of condemnation on the naming of [the hospital] has the potential of unintended consequences and a chilling effect on past, present, and future gifts to the city. We will need philanthropies to continue to tackle the challenges of Covid-19, health equity, and recovery in future years.”

Of course, this would all be moot if billionaires were taxed appropriately and public hospitals were adequately funded by the state and federal government. Zuckerberg is one of many billionaires looking to paper over the bad press from their massive tax cuts with charitable donations.

It’s a pattern we see with fellow rich men like Amazon trillionaire Jeff Bezos, who refuses to pay employees a living wage while promising free preschools for low-income families. Or Tesla’s Elon Musk, who threatened his employees with furlough for refusing to work during the pandemic, as well as moving his operations to Texas to stick it to California’s health regulations.

As most Americans struggle with the pandemic-wrecked economy, billionaires have never been wealthier or more profitable. And thanks to Trump’s tax cuts, they pay a laughable amount of their largesse back to the IRS. Yet billionaires still receive undue adulation and fawning when they deign to donate money to charity while putting their employees in high-risk working conditions.

Bottom line: we shouldn’t depend on the kindness of billionaires to take care of our own citizens.

Fingers crossed things will change with a Biden administration, but unless we win back the Senate it’s unlikely to. Speaking of winning back the Senate, check out these groups doing phone banking and raising funds for Georgia’s senate races!

(via Vox, featured image: ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images)

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Author
Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.