ElonJet, the Twitter account that tracks Musk’s private jet, has been banned
Elon Musk previously pointed to the account as proof he supports free speech
➡️ The Shortcut Skinny: Flight risk
🛬 ElonJet published publicly-available flight info for Musk’s plane
👤 Its owner, Jack Sweeney, said ElonJet was shadow banned over the weekend
🙅 ElonJet was “permanently suspended” this morning
✈️ Sweeney also runs several other plane-tracking accounts
Musk allegedly tried to buy ElonJet, seemed unwilling to up offer when asked
😶🌫️ Despite Musk attempts to hide plane info, Sweeney managed to circumvent
The Shortcut is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
ElonJet, a popular Twitter bot that routinely publishes the publicly-available flight information for Elon Musk’s private jet, has been permanently suspended, despite Musk tweeting over a month ago he wouldn’t take the account down. The suspension is ironic if you assume Musk is responsible, considering his recent attempts to showcase ways the social media company has in the past, some of which is showcased in our Twitter Files explainer.
This follows weekend claims by the account’s owner, Jack Sweeney, that ElonJet had been shadow banned. After the story was reported by Gizmodo and other outlets, Sweeney published another tweet saying the restrictions appeared to have been lifted.
A hobbyist thorn in Musk’s side
ElonJet isn’t the only flight-tracking bot account Sweeney runs. Other accounts run by the University of Central Florida student track government planes from countries like Canada, Lebanon, and the US, private jets from large corporations, as well as notable people like Vladimir Putin and Jeff Bezos. There’s no indication that any of his other accounts have been banned.
Back in January 2022, CNN was among several outlets reporting Sweeney’s claims that Musk had offered to buy him off, citing safety concerns, but that the discussion ended after the student requested more money or an internship in exchange for stopping. He also said he pointed Musk to a Federal Aviation Administration program, called Privacy ICAO Aircraft Address, that masks a registered US plane’s identifiable information.
He later tweeted from the ElonJet account that it appeared the billionaire had taken his advice, but that he was able to circumvent the privacy program and find the jet, anyway, per CNN. It’s a problematic circumvention, but as far as I can tell it doesn’t appear to be illegal. It’s feasible, though, that Twitter is justifying the takedown using its policies surrounding doxxing (though that would lead one to question why only the account tracking Musk’s plane has been removed).