Elon Musk Issues a Ban, and Subsequently Threatens to Sue a College Student Who Tracks Jets

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On Wednesday, Elon Musk’s spat with a college student who follows his private airplane veered wildly out of control, with the billionaire suspending, reactivating, and rebanning the 20-year-Twitter old’s account and then threatening legal action against him.

Musk said he has unleashed his attorneys on anyone “who advocated damage to my family” after a “crazy stalker” allegedly climbed onto the top of a car transporting his son X A-12 in Los Angeles “thinking it was me.”

The event was a whiplash-inducing exercise for anybody who follows Musk on Twitter, including @elonjet’s student manager, Jack Sweeney.

I need to exercise caution. In an interview with The Daily Beast published that night, Sweeney said, “I mean, I don’t know what’s going on.” The day’s drama had seemingly come to a head.

Sweeney couldn’t see why someone would think his account, which revealed Musk’s private flight data, posed any kind of danger to Musk’s loved ones.

Sweeney claimed, “I never intended for any purpose of like, any damage or anything,” adding that he just used material that was already accessible to the public. Moreover, “I don’t believe there’s too much of a danger of releasing stuff that’s already there.”

Despite Musk praising himself last month for allowing @elonjet to stay operational in respect of the platform’s supposed free-speech ethos, Twitter permanently terminated Sweeney’s bot account on Wednesday for infringing its rules.

As Sweeney described it to The Daily Beast shortly after the original ban: “It’s very strange, because he actually sent out the full tweet indicating that he wouldn’t [delete the profile]. “So, this morning, I am really taken aback.”

Sweeney’s personal Twitter account was likewise suspended by the site later that Wednesday. At 6:14 p.m., @elonjet mysteriously resurfaced in the feeds of its 526,000 followers.

Sweeney responded by sending out two tweets from the account, one of which said, “Wait Hello? In a tweet directed to Elon Musk, the company CEO asked, “How long does delay mean @elonmusk?” The question seems to be a reference to the recent modification in Twitter’s Safety policy regulating the public disclosure of users’ locations.

To clarify the new rules, Musk took to Twitter, writing, “Any account doxxing real-time location details of anybody will be suspended, since it is a physical safety violation.” Included in this is sharing connections to sites that provide live location data.

“Posting areas someone went to on a somewhat delayed basis isn’t a safety risk, thus is allowed,” he said.

On Wednesday, Twitter made an unexpected update to its “Private information and media policy” page, adding a strangely specific caveat that read: “live location information, including information shared on Twitter directly or links to 3rd-party URL(s) of travel routes… regardless of whether this information is publicly available.”

(A screen capture from the site’s archive that was obtained by The Intercept revealed that this provision was absent on Tuesday.)

The @elonjet account was only active for a short time, but during that time it tweeted many times, including a request that Sweeney’s personal account (@JxckSweeney) be brought back up.

It tweeted at 6:46 p.m., “Yes I am back! But in case that doesn’t work out, be sure to check out my other accounts,” and then they were quiet. A further check of the page revealed a suspended account.


According to Sweeney’s comments to The Daily Beast, he is “sort of dubious” of Musk’s explanations for his actions.

“If anything had truly occurred, wouldn’t you have made it public all at once?” he questioned. If there was a problem yesterday night, why wait until there are hundreds of reports about me being banned and my account getting banned?

The junior in college affirmed that neither Musk nor his attorneys had served him with any formal notice. Sweeney said, “We’ll see whether he’s truly accomplishing anything.”

Even after the “Chief Twit” promised Sweeney $5,000 to shut down @elonjet, Sweeney claims he hasn’t heard from him personally. Sweeney counteroffered $50,000, which Musk flatly declined. Sweeney told Anderson Cooper on Wednesday, before the evening’s events, that he would “for sure” accept a job offer from Tesla or Twitter from Musk.

Since Twitter disbanded its communications staff a few weeks ago, you won’t be able to get a response from a Twitter representative any time soon.

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