Twitter has suspended over 25 accounts who kept track of planes of government agencies, billionaires and other private individuals: among these also the one who followed the new CEO Elon Musk. The ban comes even though Musk said he didn’t want to ban @ElonJet to defend freedom of the press.
Twitter suspends accounts that track billionaires’ planes, including his own
Jack Sweeney, according to the New York Times, is the 20-year-old student who set up an automated account to track Elon Musk’s private jet. In recent months, he had reached over 500 thousand followers, posting the location of Elon Musk’s plane on @ElonJet account. Private and non-private planes have to register the arrival and departure from an airport: the information posted was public.
After buying Twitter for $44 billion, someone asked Musk if he would ban the account that follows his jet – a legal but certainly controversial practice. The CEO of Twitter he had replied: “My commitment to free speech also extends to not banning the account that follows my plane, even if it is a personal safety risk.” Apparently, that wasn’t true.
In addition to suspending the @ElonJet account, Sweeney also received a ban on his main profile, as happened to other users who created accounts to follow the jets of Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates. The ban comes for violating the rules “against platform manipulation and spam”, according to the email sent by Twitter to users.
In an interview with the NY Times, Sweeney explained that he hadn’t changed the way he posted and followed the account in any way. “He’s doing the opposite of what he said” commented.
Musk declined to respond to reporters, however he tweeted that “posting someone else’s real-time location violates doxxing policies, but posting positions with some delay is ok”. According to analysts of the New York Times, in the last 24 hours Twitter would have changed the privacy rules by preventing the posting of people’s live positions except for assistance during a humanitarian crisis.
The @ElonJet account has been reinstated after Sweeney promised to late post the location. However, Musk explained late last night that he will sue Sweeney. Before mastering Twitter, Musk had offered $5,000 to Sweeney to ask for the account to be removedand then block it mid-negotiation.
As the situation turned out, a judge will decide whether it is indeed doxxing, since the information is technically public but not as easily found without the Twitter account. In the meantime, however, location information on Twitter will only arrive late.