Summary List Placement
San Francisco officials on Tuesday passed a resolution condemning the naming of a local hospital after Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan,
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted overwhelming in favor of the resolution to condemn the name, accusing the couple of tax evasion, and Facebook of “endangering public health” by allowing misinformation to spread on its platform.
After a $75 million donation from the billionaires in 2015, San Francisco General Hospital was renamed the Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.
The vote has no legal power, meaning the hospital doesn’t have to change its name. A 50-year-long name change came as part of the donation, Vox reported, and changing it back could contractually oblige the hospital to return the $75 million donation.
“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,” Gordon Mar, the lead sponsor of the measure, said per Vox. “These are policy choices, and they have a body count.”
Demand to change the name started years ago, but hospital staff began to campaign more actively this summer.
Zuckerberg and Chan’s $75 million donation is being distributed in installments through the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF). The resolution noted that funds such as these have come under fire “for functioning as tax shelters to offset capital gains taxes from appreciating stock values following events like initial public offerings.”
It added that Chan and Zuckerberg’s first donation to the SVCF closely coincided with Facebook’s IPO, “likely saving the Donors tens of millions of dollars in capital gains taxes,” it said.
“The City and County of San Francisco should discourage, not publicly reward, tax evasion,” the board said.
Approximately 90% of the $1.244 billion construction and furnishing costs for the hospital were paid for by San Francisco taxpayers, it added.
Facebook, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and the SVCF did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
Zuckerberg has previously spoken out in favor of tax reform in Europe, and said Facebook “accept[s] that may mean we have to pay more tax and pay it in different places under a new framework.”
Discussing effort across Europe to introduce digital taxes, a Facebook spokesperson similarly told Business Insider that it continues to “encourage governments globally to focus on international tax reform because ultimately we need a global solution.”
The company has denied any wrongdoing in previous tax disputes.
Facebook has also introduced new policies to try to crack down on misinformation during 2020. It is working with fact-checking groups to curb the spread of posts sharing vaccine misinformation, has banned posts falsely claiming that the vaccine contains microchips, and added labels to — and actively demoted — false election posts.
The board’s resolution also urged the city’s officials to establish clear standards for naming rights for public institutions “that reflect San Francisco’s values and a commitment to affirming and upholding human rights, dignity, and social and racial justice.”
The board also listed other controversies Facebook has become embroiled in since the hospital was renamed, including the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the spread of misinformation about the election and COVID-19 on the platform, and its refusal to remove posts by President Donald Trump “that incited hatred and violence against African Americans.”
Kim Meredith, CEO of the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation, expressed concerns that the resolution “has potential unintended consequences of discouraging future donations.”