Jet-tracking teen lashes out at Elon Musk for Twitter suspension

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The Florida college freshman who operated a Twitter account that monitored Elon Musk’s private jet flights blasted the tech mogul as a “full-on hypocrite” after learning the account had been suspended.

Jack Sweeney was alerted to the suspension of the @Elonjet account by The Post when reached early Wednesday morning.

“This is insane,” 19-year-old Sweeney told The Post. “My phone’s going f–king nuts.”

Musk, who pledged to allow the @Elonjet Twitter handle to continue operating after he acquired the social media site in late October, has apparently reversed himself.

Sweeney told The Post that Musk erred because now he is about to get negative publicity for his decision to go back on his pledge to allow unfettered speech on the platform.

“He really is asking for it because it’s just going to get worse in the news,” Sweeney predicted. “He’s 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.”

Musk pledged last month that he would continue to allow the Twitter handle to operate despite the risk to his personal safety.
via REUTERS

Sweeney told The Post that he believes a television interview that he conducted with the NewsNation cable channel on Tuesday — during which he questioned Musk’s commitment to free speech — may have pushed Musk over the edge.

“I was on TV last night so that might have had something to do with it,” according to Sweeney, who made an appearance with NewsNation’s Leland Vittert on Tuesday.

Sweeney told The Post on Wednesday 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.

The flight-tracking handles are operated by a bot that Sweeney created which mines publicly available flight data that tracks the movement of private jets.

“I bet that’s how he’s going to be playing this off,” Sweeney said of Musk. “No bots are allowed, good or bad…”

Nevertheless, 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, he noted.

Another flight-monitoring handle which tracks support aircraft working for NASA is also functioning as per normal, according to Sweeney.

Sweeney told The Post on Wednesday that 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 has received from the public has been gratifying, and that making money was not his prime motivation for operating the flight-tracking handles.

“It’s just been cool to connect with people on Twitter and other platforms [thanks to the popularity of @Elonjet],” Sweeney told The Post. “People find me interesting.”

Still, Sweeney told The Post on Wednesday that he was concerned the Twitter ban would negatively affect the reach of @Elonjet handles that he is operating on other platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Telegram, and Discord.

The flight-tracking site uses publicly available flight data to track Musk's jet.
The flight-tracking site uses publicly available flight data to track Musk’s jet.

Musk, who terminated Twitter’s media relations department shortly after completing his $44 billion acquisition of the site, was not immediately available for comment.

Earlier this week, Sweeney told The Post that he believed the @Elonjet handle was “shadowbanned” by the site.

He posted screenshots to his Twitter account which he claimed to have obtained from an employee of the San Francisco-based social media site.

Sweeney lashed out at Musk as a "full-on hypocrite."
Sweeney lashed out at Musk as a “full-on hypocrite.”
Courtesy Jack Sweeney

The screenshot showed a chat on Twitter’s internal Slack messaging service in which Ella Irwin, the company’s vice president of trust and safety, was “requesting elonjet to have heavy VF (visibility filtering).”

“Shadowbanning” is the practice whereby social media platforms “de-amplify” or throttle certain accounts without notifying their owners they were doing so — thus effectively limiting their reach.

The practice was used to silence right-leaning commentators before Musk bought the site, but was thought to be abandoned by the the self-described “free-speech absolutist.”

Musk acquired Twitter to allow for unfettered speech on the platform.
Musk acquired Twitter to allow for unfettered speech on the platform.
AP

Sweeney tweeted that the “shadowban” was brief and that the handle was functioning normally as of Tuesday.

Musk has stated in the past that he believes the account is a threat to his personal security. But last month, he said that he had no plans to suspend Sweeney’s account, which tracks the movements of his private jet.

“My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk,” Musk tweeted last month.

The @Elonjet Twitter handle was suspended as of early Wednesday morning.
The @Elonjet Twitter handle was suspended as of early Wednesday morning.
Twitter/@ElonJet

As The Post reported, Musk contacted Sweeney last year through Twitter direct messages and offered him $5,000 to delete the account. The billionaire described the account as a “security risk” that could put his life in jeopardy.

“I don’t love the idea of being shot by a nutcase,” Musk said at the time.

Sweeney made a counter-offer of $50,000. Musk said he would consider the offer, but later said it didn’t “feel right” and stopped responding to his messages.

Last week, Bari Weiss, the independent journalist, tweeted the second installment of the “Twitter Files” which showed how the San Francisco-based social media company placed conservatives on secret “blacklists” while “shadowbanning” far-right users.

Musk has said he bought Twitter in order to undo its perceived left-wing bias which critics say led to the site’s censorship of the New York Post’s scoop about Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop in the weeks and months leading up to the 2020 elections.

Additional Reporting by Thomas Barrabi


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