Mark Zuckerberg put his name on a hospital, and the act of hubris is predictably not boding well with those concerned with their privacy. About a dozen current and former nurses protested the name change over the weekend, in which they covered Zuckerberg’s name outside the hospital in blue tape.
Zuckerberg and his wife donated $75 million to San Francisco General Hospital in 2015, which funded new equipment and technology for the hospital. To commemorate the significant donation, the hospital was renamed the Priscilla and Mark Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center. Though, only Zuckerberg’s name is included on the metal sign at the front of the hospital.
“We are in charge of keeping our most vulnerable people private and protected,” Heather Ali, who works in nursing administration, told the New York Times. “Now people wonder, ‘How much is my privacy protected at a hospital with that name on it?’”
During Saturday’s demonstration, one nurse at the hospital told the New York Times that Zuckerberg’s name “scares” patients. Another reportedly wrote “malwareberg” on one sign, with “Uninstall Zuckerberg” on another.
Zuckerberg and Dr. Chan’s donation came years before Facebook was entangled in a massive privacy scandal, and Saturday’s demonstration is emblematic of the changing perception people have of tech companies now versus just a few years ago. People are increasingly distrustful of how tech companies might abuse their information. It’s therefore understandably unsettling for some to see the name of one of the most powerful leaders in tech stretched across a hospital, a place where privacy is critical.
FOX KTVU reported in 2015 that Zuckerberg’s name would stay on the hospital for 50 years, noting that “babies born at SFGH will have the Facebook founder’s name on their birth certificates.”
“Had we known what we know now, perhaps we wouldn’t have accepted the funds from Zuckerberg,” John Avalos, a former member of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, told the New York Times.
Beyond the Cambridge Analytica scandal, an initiative from Facebook’s research arm Building 8 may also not sit well with patients and hospital employees. The group was trying to hatch a plan in which the social network would share users’ anonymized data with major US hospitals, according to a CNBC report in April. That plan has since been put on pause, but it suggests that no data is too intimate for Facebook to try and get its hands on.
Update 4:05pm: A spokesperson from Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center said in a statement that Zuckerberg and Dr. Chan’s names were added to the name of the hospital “to reflect both gratitude and historic importance of their gift in better serving the city’s people.” They added that the hospital’s “most important commitment is to our patients, to ensuring their well-being and to protecting their privacy.”