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Google Glass Wearers Banned From San Francisco SoMa Bar

by Carlos E. Castañeda
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A sign outside The Willows bar at Folsom and 12th streets in San Francisco asks patrons to remove their Google Glass. (Margie Shafer/CBS)

A sign outside The Willows bar at Folsom and 12th streets in San Francisco asks patrons to remove their Google Glass. (Margie Shafer/CBS)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A San Francisco South of Market bar, often frequented by a high-tech crowd, has banned patrons from wearing Google Glass while inside the establishment.

The Willows, a bar at Folsom and 12th streets, has put up a sign, with a picture of Google Glass encircled in red, with a big slash through the center.  Willows co-owner Trista Bernasconi said they are being proactive.

“We have a sign up in the front window.  It just says for the privacy of our patrons, we ask you to please remove your Google Glass before entering,” she said.

The device, which combines many of the functions of a smartphone, has created privacy concerns, as people using Google Glass can record from the device without the knowledge of others.  It has also become a target of critics who said it symbolizes the “tech elite” and the industry’s negative effects on working class neighborhoods, especially in San Francisco.

Much of the controversy over the device stems from an incident last month at a bar in San Francisco’s Lower Haight neighborhood.  Social media consultant Sarah Slocum, who wore Google Glass inside Molotov’s, claimed she was attacked by patrons, who objected to her wearing the device inside the establishment.  Others disputed Slocum’s version of events, and since the incident occurred, there has been a huge social media backlash against both Slocum and the device.

Slocum has remained unapologetic since the incident in late February, and is even trying to parlay her recent notoriety into a Google-sponsored trip to the South by Southwest Festival in Austin.

Many at The Willows are applauding the move by the owners.  “I think it’s a great idea.  People want to feel comfortable when they go out and drink,” one bar patron told KCBS.

The ban has been extended to The Willows sister establishment, Sycamore in the Mission District.  Molotov’s is taking the same stance as well.

Those who currently have Google Glass are participating in a beta program.  Commercial release of the technology is expected later this year.

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