Twitter Inc. suspended multiple accounts that track the locations of private jets using publicly available flight data, including one that followed the plane of the company’s owner, Elon Musk.
Musk publicly declared last month that he would not ban the account even though he saw it as a safety risk, saying that it was evidence of his commitment to free speech.
Early Wednesday morning in New York, the @elonjet page showed a message that read “account suspended” because it violated the platform’s rules. The account had been operated since 2020 by Jack Sweeney, who also ran other Twitter accounts that tracked the private jets of Mark Zuckerberg and other celebrities.
By the afternoon, Twitter updated its policy to bar accounts from sharing someone else’s current location information, though tweeting about “historical (not same-day)” locations would be allowed. The @elonjet account reappeared and began tweeting, but then was suspended again.
Musk said in a tweet that legal action was being taken against Sweeney and the “organizations who supported harm to my family.”
In an earlier interview, Sweeney said that the 30 Twitter accounts he manages were all suspended, as was his personal account.
Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion in late October and has set about making sometimes drastic changes regarding how the platform operates. He has made sweeping cuts to the company’s workforce, including those responsible for trust and safety, and has been making his own content decisions, like reinstating the accounts of some people who had previously been suspended.
Musk and representatives for Twitter didn’t respond to requests for comment. The billionaire tweeted later on Wednesday that posting someone’s location in real time on the social network violates the company’s policy against publishing certain personal details, “but delayed posting of locations are OK.”
Sweeney’s last tweet on his own account before it was suspended asked, “Can I have my $8 back?” — a reference to the company’s Twitter Blue subscription service.
Jason Calacanis, a venture capitalist and podcaster who has been assisting Musk in his takeover of Twitter, appeared to defend the billionaire’s decision. “My personal belief is that sustained sharing of public location information is de facto doxing,” Calacanis said in a tweet before Musk weighed in. “If one individual followed another around all day & shared their location on a twitter handle called “Susan’s location” that would obviously present a dangerous security risk.”
Sweeney, a student at the University of Central Florida, said he hasn’t received any other notices from Twitter via email or other mediums.
“Musk literally said he wouldn’t do anything because he protects free speech, but this is the exact opposite,” Sweeney said by phone.
Sweeney, 20, turned down a $5,000 offer from the Tesla Inc. chief executive officer in 2021 to shut down his bot account and countered with a demand to boost the payout to $50,000. Musk made multiple attempts to contact him to ask to shut it down, Sweeney has said.
Sweeney has continued tracking Musk’s private jet on Facebook, Instagram and the Donald Trump-affiliated Truth Social.
Musk’s jet landed in Austin, Texas, last night, following the suspension of the @elonjet Twitter account, Sweeney said on Instagram.
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