Twitter has suspended an account that tracked Twitter CEO Elon Musk’s private jet, weeks after Musk said he would not ban the account from the platform on free speech grounds.
The account, @ElonJet, was suspended from Twitter sometime on Wednesday, according to users who first noticed that the account was inaccessible due to a suspension. The account’s webpage said that it had been suspended for “violating the rules.” (RELATED: Musk Posts Cryptic Tweet After Calling For Fauci To Be Prosecuted)
@ElonJet, run by aviation enthusiast Jack Sweeney, a 19-year-old student at the University of Central Florida, was created in June 2020 to track Musk’s private jet – a G-650 Gulfstream numbered N628TS. The account revealed clues of Musk’s whereabouts, though the account could not tell whether Musk himself traveled on his jet.
Mastodon is up now! https://t.co/ofNMSuXJYW
— Jack Sweeney (@JxckSweeney) December 14, 2022
Shortly after the suspension, Sweeney posted a Mastodon link to the tracker from his personal Twitter page. Mastodon has gained popularity as an alternative to Twitter, particularly those distasteful of Musk’s leadership of the company.
Sweeney had previously faced criticism for publishing Musk’s airborne movements on Twitter, though he has cited Twitter rules that permit him to do so. “This account has every right to post jet whereabouts, ADS-B data is public, every aircraft in the world is required to have a transponder, Even [Air Force One] (@AirForceTrack). Twitter policy states data found on other sites are allowed to be shared here as well,” he tweeted before the account was suspended.
Musk has publicly bristled at @ElonJet for publicizing his travel and once offered to pay Sweeney $5,000 to stop using the account via direct message on Twitter. Sweeney countered Musk’s offer by proposing a $50,000 payment as well as a Tesla Model 3, an offer to which Musk did not respond. (RELATED: Elon Musk Gets Booed At Dave Chappelle’s Comedy Show In San Francisco)
Though Musk had once called for the account to be removed, before he acquired Twitter he tweeted “My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk.” The tweet received attention following the ban, with many users accusing Musk of hypocrisy.
Leading up to the ban, Sweeney published screenshots of Slack messages that allegedly show Ella Irwin, vice president of Trust & Safety at Twitter, asking for “visibility filtering” to be placed on @ElonJet. The act of “visibility filtering,” whereby a user’s tweets are less visible on Twitter despite their content traction, has been heavily criticized by conservatives, and even Musk himself, following revelations that Twitter applied such filters on tweets by conservative-leaning Twitter accounts during the 2020 presidential election, as published in the “Twitter Files” by Substack writer Matt Taibbi.
On Sunday I emailed Ella Irwin, Twitter’s “Product & Trust leader,” to ask if this purported leaked screenshot was real. She hasn’t responded. Given that @elonjet has now been permanently suspended, I guess we can assume it was. https://t.co/AjR1IpSHSn
— 🦀 Jon Schwarz 🦀 (@schwarz) December 14, 2022
Musk, Sweeney and Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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