Twitter CEO and owner Elon Musk is suing Jack Sweeney, the University of Central Florida student who tracks his private plane and posts his flight details on social media under the @ElonJet banner.
Musk announced his intentions on Twitter Wednesday evening hours after the social media platform permanently suspended the @ElonJet account and Sweeney’s personal account. In a tweet, Musk said a “crazy stalker” tracked the car his 2-year-old son, X, was driving in Los Angeles on Tuesday night. The assailant allegedly stopped the car from moving and climbed onto the bonnet.
“Last night the car carrying little X to Los Angeles was followed by a crazed stalker (thinking it was me), who then stopped the car from moving and climbed onto the hood,” Musk wrote. “Legal action is ongoing against Sweeney and the organizations that supported the harm to my family.”
The billionaire then posted a video of the alleged perpetrator, who is wearing a black hoodie and half-covered ski mask, along with his license plate. He asked his more than 120 million followers if they recognized the person or the car.
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Plus, Musk on Wednesday too revealed a change to Twitter’s policy on sharing real-time information, stating that “any account doxxing anyone’s real-time location information will be suspended.” The owner of Twitter said sharing a person’s real-time location was a “breach of physical security”.
Accounts that post links to sites with real-time location information will also be banned, the billionaire explained.
What happened to @ElonJet?
Tensions over the future of the @ElonJet Twitter account have become the latest scandal on the Musk-owned social network in recent days. The drama began when Sweeney accused Twitter of shadowbanning @ElonJet last weekend. On Monday, Sweeney said @ElonJet appeared to have regained visibility, leading him to believe Twitter had reversed course. This was not the case. Instead, it was the start of a roller coaster ride.
Early Wednesday, users began noticing that the @ElonJet account had been suspended, which Sweeney later confirmed. On Wednesday evening, @ElonJet came back briefly, tweeting: “Wait hello? How long does the delay mean @elonmusk… hour? we need clear rules.
Hours later, @ElonJet and Sweeney’s personal Twitter account was permanently suspended again. The student’s other plane trackers, dedicated to tracking the likes of Drake, Jeff Bezos and Taylor Swift, have also been suspended.
Musk’s decision to ban @ElonJet comes about a month after he said he would not ban the account in the name of “free speech”. His tweeted commitment not banning the account now includes a community note that highlights Musk’s about-face on the matter.
“My commitment to free speech even goes so far as not to ban the account that follows my plane, even if it is a direct risk to personal safety,” the Twitter CEO wrote on November 6.
What’s the story between Musk and Sweeney?
Musk’s beef with Sweeney dates back to January this year, when he messaged the student on Twitter asking him to delete the @ElonJet account because it was a “security risk”. At the time, Musk offered Sweeney $5,000 to delete the account, saying he didn’t want “crazy people” tracking his flights.
“I don’t like the idea of being shot by a crackpot,” Musk told the student.
Sweeney rejected Musk’s offer and instead asked the billionaire for $50,000, which he said he could use to pay for college or maybe buy a Tesla Model 3. The student also suggested that Musk could offer him an internship in exchange for deleting the account. Musk didn’t like either option and blocked Sweeney on Twitter.
Sweeney started following Musk’s plane because he was a fan of the billionaire. His methods are far from harmful. Sweeney’s tracker, which is still available on Facebook and instagramuses information from ADS-B exchangean amateur site that gathers public data from the transponders of different aircraft.
The student said The New York Times Wednesday that he did not share Musk’s view of the security risks posed by his tracker.
“If anybody wanted to do something, they could do it without me,” Sweeney said.