San Francisco, CA – On Tuesday, December 15th, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution condemning the naming of San Francisco General Hospital after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The vote comes at a time when lawsuits filed by the Federal Trade Commission and 48 attorneys general are calling for Facebook to be broken up.
Healthcare workers at San Francisco General Hospital have long objected to having Zuckerberg’s name associated with the city’s well-respected public hospital. During the COVID-19 pandemic, while healthcare workers are risking their lives to care for community members, Facebook’s algorithm has spread public health disinformation on the platform far more than actual public health information from trusted sources.
In a recent survey conducted by the International Center for Journalists and Columbia University’s Tow Center for Journalism, reporters covering the pandemic said that the Facebook platform is the largest impediment they face to delivering accurate stories about the virus.
“Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook has caused misinformation to spread even faster than COVID-19,” said Sasha Cuttler, a San Francisco nurse and member of SEIU Local 1021. “As a nurse, I must provide patients with correct medical information. If I told a patient that COVID-19 is a hoax, I should be disciplined. Thankfully, Mark Zuckerberg has finally been disciplined through this resolution. The fact that he’s profiting from allowing deadly misinformation to spread cannot be erased by philanthropy.”
“Facebook’s algorithm pushes its users toward harmful content and extreme views—whether about public health issues like COVID-19 or disinformation about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. It needs to change its ways, and San Francisco is finally doing its part in making that happen by passing this resolution. Mark Zuckerberg’s name has no place on our esteemed public hospital,” said Tracy Rosenberg of the Protest Facebook coalition.
The resolution also urges San Francisco City departments to establish clear standards to ensure that naming rights for public institutions and properties are only bestowed on organizations whose practices align with San Francisco values. In the case of Facebook, since 2015, when the board of supervisors originally approved naming rights for San Francisco General Hospital, the company has been mired in numerous controversies—from the Cambridge Analytics privacy scandal to Russia’s use of Facebook to suppress African American voter turnout in the 2016 election to the company’s refusal to take down posts that incite hatred and violence, which provoked a national boycott by Facebook advertisers under the banner Stop Hate for Profit.