Elon Musk's jet tracked by Twitter bot run by Jack Sweeney to 'stay' amid criticism over banning parody accounts
Jack Sweeney, 20, of the University of Central Florida uses publically available data from Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) to follow the jets
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA: The automated Twitter bot tracking Tesla chief Elon Musks' private Gulfstream jet is to stay for now on the platform. This comes as Musk faces criticism for banning parody accounts impersonating him in view of his free speech remarks. The CEO said that he still allows one user to track his private jet despite risks to the billionaire's personal safety.
The Twitter account Musk was referring to is set up by a 20-year-old student named Jack Sweeney of the University of Central Florida. He tracks the private jet movements of celebrities and other high-profile executives like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. Sweeney reportedly has over one dozen accounts and one among them is @ElonJet, as per Forbes.
Musk in a tweet on Sunday said, "My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk." Sweeny through his automated account @Elonjet in a reply said, "Thank you backing your commitment to free speech. Overwhelmingly the followers of my account are supporters and admirers of your endeavors. Which was my (@JxckSweeney) motivation for creating @ElonJet."
Thank you backing your commitment to free speech. Overwhelmingly the followers of my account are supporters and admirers of your endeavors. Which was my (@JxckSweeney) motivation for creating @ElonJet.— ElonJet (@ElonJet) November 7, 2022
Sweeney, who has earned a large number of followers and fame uses publically available data from Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) to follow the jets. Not only does he publish the locations the plane has taken off or will land but also real-time locations as to where the plane is headed. To add to the excitement of his fans and followers, he publishes the estimated costs for the fuel burned and carbon emissions of each flight, which has led to a slew of coverage targeting Kim Kardashian, Taylor Swift, and others.
Sweeny as per his article in Newsweek started @ElonJet as a high school project in June 2022. "It was my first coding project. I've always been interested in technology and computers, as well as SpaceX and Tesla. I became aware of flight-tracking apps as my dad works in aviation as a maintenance controller. I had the idea that you could take some of this data and track planes you're interested in."
Sharing details about the 5000$ offer Musk made him to take it down, he said, "In November 2021, I received a private message from Elon Musk on Twitter, asking me to take down my Twitter account. The account, ElonJet, tracks the whereabouts of Musk's private jet. It currently has almost 500k followers. Musk offered me $5k to take it down, but for the amount of work I had put in, and for how much I enjoyed it, I didn't want to give it up for an amount that wasn't life-changing. I think it's kind of insane that the world's richest person, who puts rockets into space and can make a car drive itself, was asking a teenager, who was a freshman in college, to stop tracking his plane."
Sweeny said that fans want to see where they are going, "I also wanted to track Musk's jet because there's a demand for it—as there is for other celebrities, which is why I also track the jets of Jeff Bezos, Taylor Swift, and Donald Trump, among others. People who are fans of these people want to see where they're going."