A Florida teenager has blasted Elon Musk for permanently suspending his Twitter account that tracked the billionaire’s private jet.
Musk on Wednesday banned @ElonJet, which had been created by Jack Sweeney in 2020 and published his movements across the world.
Sweeney has been tracking Musk’s private Gulfstream jet by obtaining public Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data.
The 19-year-old had predicted the suspension and linked his followers to back-up pages on Facebook, Instagram and Telegram.
But today he called him a ‘full-on hypocrite’ after the Tesla CEO vowed earlier this year to keep the account up following his $44 billion takeover of the tech giant.
Jack Sweeney, 19, has been tracking new Twitter CEO Elon Musk’s private Gulfstream jet since 2020 by obtaining public Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data
Musk is the owner off a Gulfstream G650ER business jet, valued at $70 million and is seen here leaving the aircraft in Los Angeles in February
‘This is insane, my phone’s going f*****g nuts,’ Sweeney told The New York Post.
He really is asking for it because it’s just going to get worse in the news. [Musk is] going to be called a full-on hypocrite.
When asked if he also thinks Musk is a ‘full-on hypocrite,’ Sweeney replied: ‘Yeah, it would seem so.’
In an interview with NewsNation on Tuesday, Sweeney was questioned about Musk’s commitment to free speech, which the teen believes may have ‘pushed Musk over the edge.’
‘I was on TV last night so that might have had something to do with it,’ he said.
Sweeney said he thinks Musk will justify the ban by claiming it is part of his pledge to purge the site of bot and spam accounts – adding @ElonJet uses a bot created by him.
‘I bet that’s how he’s going to be playing this off,’ Sweeney said. ‘No bots are allowed, good or bad.’
Other Twitter handles which monitor the private jet movements of other billionaires, including Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Donald Trump, and Bill Gates, remain active as of Wednesday morning, Sweeney noted.
Another flight-monitoring handle which tracks support aircraft working for NASA also remains functioning as per normal.
On Wednesday morning Sweeney confirmed the permanent suspension in a tweet on his personal account @JxckSweeney.
‘Well it appears @ElonJet is suspended,’ he wrote on Wednesday.
News of the accounts suspension was shared quickly across the social media platform, with others also posting about the removal, some taking a swipe at Musk.
One user wrote: ‘It looks like @elonmusk has killed the account that was tracking the location of his jet (using publicly available information).’
Another said: ‘Mr Free Speech absolutist strikes again. What a snowflake. @ElonJet suspended.’
The suspension comes after users found they could no longer search for the automated account, or tag it in tweets through suggested usernames.
The reason for the heavy restriction on its accessibility, according to the bot’s creator, was that Twitter staffers had dampened the account in a targeted effort.
At the weekend Sweeney wrote: ‘About to release my own Twitter files. Thanks whistleblowers.’
Sweeney said that he thinks Musk will justify the ban by claiming that it is part of his pledge to purge the site of bot and spam accounts
Sweeney has created a Twitter automated page called @ElonJet to keep his followers updated with Musk’s whereabouts
Internal company messages shared with Sweeney by an ‘anonymous Twitter employee’ reflected that the @elonjet account had been ‘visibility limited/restricted to a severe degree’ beginning December 2.
A screenshot of what he claimed was an internal Slack channel showed Ella Irwin, the person appointed to replace Yoel Roth as Twitter’s new head of trust and safety, asking a ‘Team’ to ‘please apply heavy VF to @elonjet immediately.’
‘VF’ stands for ‘visibility filtering,’ which blacklists or ‘shadow-bans’ certain accounts by shielding their content from other users. That term is used by Twitter employees internally.
Some users called Musk a ‘hypocrite’ after he made promises shortly after the $44 billion takeover that he was committed to ‘free speech.’
‘My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk,’ he said in November.
Sweeney’s concerns about suspension stemmed from an online conversation he had with his idol last year when Musk asked him to stop tracking his jet.
In November 2021, the South African-Canadian-American tycoon reportedly contacted Sweeney and offered the coder $5,000 to delete his jet tracking account – claiming security concerns were the main reason for his reluctance to have his location shared publicly at all times.
However, Sweeney rejected the four-digit offer and instead made his own demands: a $50,000 pay-out, and an internship or a Tesla Model 3, according to screenshots of their conversation shared online at the time.
Elon Musk suspended Sweeney’s account, but the 19-year-old had predicted the move and has linked his followers to back-up pages on Facebook, Instagram and Telegram.
Sweeney’s concerns that his popular @ElonJet page might be removed based on an online conversation he had with Musk in November 2021.
In 2016 Elon Musk purchased a $66.5 million Gulfstream G650ER, (model pictured) a favorite aircraft among the one percent – including Cristiano Ronaldo and Jeff Bezos.
The Gulfstream G650ER jets (model pictured) features fold up tables stowed at the side of the plane that can be combined to form a large dining room table to feed any guest on board.
Sweeney said he has no regrets about turning down Musk’s $5,000 offer earlier this year to shut down the account.
He said he has made around $7,000 in total from the handle thanks to merchandise sales, advertising, and donations.
He said that the attention he received from the public was gratifying enough, and making money was not his prime motivation.
It’s just been cool to connect with people on Twitter and other platforms [thanks to the popularity of @Elonjet]. People find me interesting,’ Sweeney said.
The teen has also constantly faced online backlash for sharing Musk’s travels.
He revealed once how he received a flurry of ‘really abusive’ messages from Musk’s fans questioning the morality of his page’s activity since its creation two years ago.
‘There are some on Twitter who don’t like what I am doing,’ Sweeney once told The Independent.
‘I get rude direct messages, but the really bad ones I report, and the accounts are eventually taken down.’
After Musk Purchased Twitter, he shared his vision of what there is to come through a company statement: ‘Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where vital matters to the future of humanity are debated.’
He also said at the time that he planned to improve Twitter by adding subscription deals, adding new features such as the ‘edit’ button, sharing more transparency on the platform’s algorithms and removing spam bots.