ORLANDO, Fla. – A Twitter account run by a University of Central Florida student that tracked Elon Musk’s private jet was suspended for much of the day, briefly reinstated, then suspended again.
@ElonJet, an account run by UCF sophomore Jack Sweeney, was suspended this week. Sweeney said on his personal Twitter account Wednesday morning that the jet-tracking account had been permanently suspended.
In a tweet, Musk cited Twitter rules that prohibit accounts from providing real-time location data of other people, adding that posting locations that someone traveled to on a “slightly delayed basis” would still conform with Twitter’s policies.
Any account doxxing real-time location info of anyone will be suspended, as it is a physical safety violation. This includes posting links to sites with real-time location info.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 15, 2022
Posting locations someone traveled to on a slightly delayed basis isn’t a safety problem, so is ok.
According to Musk, a car carrying his son was “followed by a crazy stalker” who tried to block the car climbed onto its hood.
Musk posted on his personal Twitter account in part, “Legal action is being taken against Sweeney & organizations who supported harm to my family.”
However, Sweeney confirmed to News 6 that his account was reinstated Wednesday night, even though his personal account was suspended. He believes it was reinstated after he appealed.
Although, not long after being reinstated, the account appeared to be suspended again on Twitter.
“I just said, ‘You know, I don’t believe I violated any terms,’ but I mean in the conditions I’m in, I don’t think they’re really going to do anything,” he added. “I would just like to work it out in a better way for both of us so it doesn’t look as bad for him and I end (up) happier than with a banned account. I think we can come to better terms.”
Sweeney created the account to track Musk’s private jet using publicly available data as a coding project in 2020.
The account attracted hundreds of thousands of followers, but also the attention of Musk himself, who offered Sweeney $5,000 to take the account down. Sweeney countered with $50,000, or a Tesla vehicle. Musk declined, but at the time there wasn’t much he could do about the account.
When Musk bought Twitter, he tweeted that he was committed to free speech, including keeping the @ElonJet account.
My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 7, 2022
By Wednesday afternoon, a new disclaimer was up on the tweet regarding @ElonJet.
“The implied account in this tweet is elonjet, which is currently banned,” it said. “Elonjet used to use publicly available plane tracking data to follow which airports Musk’s private jet flew to.”
Sweeney said he didn’t think the move was fair.
“So it’s the complete opposite of what he said about a month ago,” he told News 6. “Over the weekend (after Musk tweeted about the account in November), I got a message from someone at Twitter saying that they were visibility filtering and I posted all about that. I guess that could’ve been like a warning that they were really, like, bothered by it.”
Sweeney wrote in Newsweek last month that he didn’t think Musk would suspend the account because the media would cover it.
Musk responded to criticism by claiming Sweeney violated Twitter’s new doxxing policy.
Real-time posting of someone else’s location violates doxxing policy, but delayed posting of locations are ok— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 14, 2022
Twitter was not the only platform where Sweeney tracks Musk’s jet movements. He has accounts on Facebook and other platforms as well.
He has accounts tracking other celebrities as well, including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, and various Russian oligarchs, as well as government agency planes, all using publicly available data. All of those accounts were also suspended Wednesday.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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