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

The freshman at the University of Florida who operated a Twitter account that monitored Elon Musk’s private jet flights blasted the tech mogul as a “complete 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.

“It’s crazy,” Sweeney, 19, told The Post. “My phone is going crazy. »

Musk, who pledged to allow the @Elonjet Twitter account to continue to operate after acquiring the social media site in late October, apparently reversed itself.

Sweeney told the Post that Musk made a mistake because he was now on the verge of getting negative publicity for his decision to backtrack on his promise to allow unfettered speech on the platform.

Sweeney said he learned of the ban when contacted by The Post early Wednesday morning.
ZUMAPRESS.com

“He’s really asking because it’s just gonna get worse in the news,” Sweeney predicted. “He’s going to be called a complete hypocrite.”

When asked if he also thought Musk was a “complete hypocrite,” Sweeney replied, “Yeah, it would seem so.”

Musk promised last month that he would continue to allow the Twitter account to operate despite the risk to his personal security.
Musk promised last month that he would continue to allow the Twitter account to operate despite the risk to his personal security.
by Reuters

Sweeney told the Post that he believes a television interview he did with the cable channel NewsNation 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 it might have something to do with it,” according to Sweeney, who appeared with NewsNation’s Leland Vittert on Tuesday.

Sweeney told the Post on Wednesday that he thought Musk would justify the ban by saying it was part of his commitment to purge the site of bot and spam accounts.

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

“I bet that’s how he’s gonna play it,” Sweeney said of Musk. “No bots are allowed, good or bad…”

Nonetheless, other Twitter handles that monitor the private jet movements of other billionaires, including Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Donald Trump and Bill Gates, remain active Wednesday morning, he noted.

Another handful of flight surveillance that tracks support aircraft working for NASA is also operating normally, 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 close the account.

He said he earned about $7,000 in total from the handful through merchandise sales, advertising and donations.

He said the attention he received from the public was gratifying and that making money was not his main motivation for using the flight tracking handles.

“It’s just 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 fears the Twitter ban will negatively affect the reach of the @Elonjet handles it operates 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 on his Twitter account that he claims he obtained from an employee of the San Francisco-based social media site.

Sweeney lashed out at Musk as "totally hypocritical."
Sweeney lashed out at Musk, calling him a “full hypocrite”.
Courtesy of Jack Sweeney

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

“Shadowbanning” is the practice by which social media platforms “de-amplify” or throttle certain accounts without notifying their owners, effectively limiting their reach.

The practice was used to silence right-wing commentators before Musk bought the site, but it was thought to have been abandoned by the self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist”.

Musk acquired Twitter to enable unfettered speech on the platform.
Musk acquired Twitter to enable unfettered speech on the platform.
PA

Sweeney tweeted that the “shadowban” was brief and the handle had been working normally since Tuesday.

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

“My commitment to free speech even goes so far as not to ban the account following my flight, even if it is a direct risk to personal safety,” Musk tweeted last month. .

The @Elonjet Twitter account was suspended early Wednesday morning.
The @Elonjet Twitter account was suspended early Wednesday morning.
Twitter/@ElonJet

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

“I don’t like the idea of ​​being shot by a crackpot,” Musk said at the time.

Sweeney made a counteroffer of $50,000. Musk said he would consider the offer, but later said she was “not feeling well” and stopped responding to his messages.

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

Musk said he bought Twitter in order to undo its leftist bias which critics say led to the site being censored on the The New York Post scoop on Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop in the weeks and months leading up to the 2020 election.

Additional reporting by Thomas Barrabi

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