Ownership has privileges
Elon Musk bans Twitter account tracking his private jet, threatens 20-year-old owner with 'legal action'
Elon Musk's commitment to free speech, it turns out, isn't as strong as his commitment to not having his private jet's flight data posted on the social network he just bought for $44 billion.
Musk has long been irritated by the automated account @elonjet, set up in 2020 by a young Elon Musk superfan named Jack Sweeney to post publicly available flight information for Musk's Gulfstream. Musk asked Sweeney to take the account down last year, then offered him $5,000 to buy it, explaining in a private message that he didn't "love the idea of being shot by a nutcase," Protocol reported in January. After he bought Twitter, Musk cited the account to highlight his avowed free speech absolutism.
The @elonjet account was permanently suspended early Wednesday for violating an unspecified rule, then reinstated Wednesday evening, then permanently banned again, along with Sweeney's personal account. Twitter also stops users from posting links to a Musk jet-tracking site Sweeney set up on Instagram.
Musk tweeted what appeared to be a new policy against posting someone else's location — though Twitter noted underneath that the service @elonjet had provided is "protected under the First Amendment."
Musk also threatened "legal action" against "Sweeney & organizations who supported harm to my family," saying a car carrying his young son X Æ A-12 had been followed in Los Angeles by a "crazy stalker." Sweeney "shared publicly available information about Musk's flights, not his family members or his cars," The Washington Post notes. "Musk has provided no further detail as to what legal basis Musk would cite in a lawsuit."
Twitter updated its rules sometime on Wednesday to ban sharing "live location information, including information shared on Twitter directly or links to 3rd-party URL(s) of travel routes, actual physical location, or other identifying information that would reveal a person's location, regardless if this information is publicly available."
But Sweeney, over on rival site Mastodon, posted a screenshot showing that his non-automated personal account had been axed for violating Twitter's rules against "platform manipulation and spam."
"He said this is free speech and he's doing the opposite," Sweeney, 20, told The Associated Press. He said suspects his account was suspended in retaliation for posting leaked internal communications on Dec. 10 showing an executive ordering heavy "visibility filtering" for the @elonjet account. The whole episode has made him question his enthusiasm about Musk and his business acumen, Sweeney said Wednesday. "Every move he's making is giving him worse PR."