- Sasha Cuttler
- Nurses at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital are protesting having the Facebook founder’s name attached to the institution.
- They’re concerned about Facebook’s privacy practices and worried that patients will associate the hospital with the social-networking company’s recent scandals.
- One suggestion? Re-naming the hospital after José Sarria, a legendary San Francisco LGBTQ civil rights activist and drag queen.
With Facebook under scrutiny for its privacy practices, some nurses in San Francisco want to remove the name of the company’s founder from a local public hospital.
The nurses, many of whom work for the Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital And Trauma Center – commonly referred to as just the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital – worry that patients will associate it with the social network and its recent scandal involving the leak of data to Cambridge Analytica. They’re also concerned about being connected with Zuckerberg and Facebook in light of some of the company’s ethically questionable practices in the past.
On Saturday, a small group of nurses staged a protest outside the hospital, taping over the word “Zuckerberg” on a sign.
“To give the name away to someone who has caused a great deal of harm in the world is entirely inappropriate,” nurse Sasha Cuttler told Business Insider.
The New York Times previously reported on the protest.
San Francisco General Hospital was renamed in 2015 after Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan donated $75 million to the institution. The name change has aroused opposition since it was first announced.
A union that includes nursing employees from the hospital circulated a petition in 2015 urging the hospital allow city residents to have some say in the name. The petition noted that residents in 2008 had approved $887 million bond measure to support the hospital.
“Although Mr. Zuckerberg and Dr. Chan’s $75 million donation is appreciated and needed, we feel strongly that it is wrong to name the whole hospital for them,” the petition read.
Objections to using Zuckerberg’s name have been raised for years
The objections to the name have been reignited by the recent string of scandals for Facebook, particularly the one involving Cambridge Analytica. But they also reflect longstanding concerns about the company and its practices.
One thing the nurses pointed to was a 2015 study Facebook conducted in which its researchers manipulated users’ emotions without their knowledge or consent. That study was widely criticized after it became public, with many deeming it unethical.
The nurses are also worried that Facebook might use Zuckerberg’s relationship with the hospital to try to obtain data on its patients. They pointed to a CNBC report about how Facebook quietly tried to pursue data-sharing arrangements with other hospitals.
The CNBC report didn’t specifically cite any contact between the company and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. In a statement at the time, Facebook said the hospital data-sharing initiative didn’t progress past the “planning stage.”
“We are in charge of keeping our most vulnerable people private and protected … Now people wonder, ‘How much is my privacy protected at a hospital with that name on it?'” Heater Ali, an employee at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, told The New York Times.
One nurse thinks it should be renamed after an LGBTQ activist
But even some of the city’s political elite are starting to second-guess the decision to rename the hospital.
“Had we known what we know now, perhaps we wouldn’t have accepted the funds from Zuckerberg,” John Avalos, a former San Francisco supervisor, told The Times.
A Facebook spokesperson did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
The protesters don’t have a consensus pick for what the hospital should be named, if Zuckerberg’s name is removed. Instead, they believe San Francisco residents should get to choose a name in a citywide vote, Cuttler said.
Cuttler has a personal preference – José Sarria, an LGBTQ civil rights activist and drag queen. In 1961, Sarria, who went by the drag name “the Widow Norton,” became the first openly gay candidate to run for public office in the United States.
A Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital spokesperson did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.