January 29, 2023

Twitter on Wednesday suspended more than 25 accounts that tracked the planes of government agencies, billionaires and high-profile personalities — including one that tracked the whereabouts of social media company owner Elon Musk, who has said he is committed to “free speech.” “

Jack Sweeney, a 20-year-old college student and flight-tracking enthusiast, said he woke up Wednesday to find his automated Twitter account @ElonJet had been suspended. The account has amassed more than 500,000 followers in recent months, using publicly available flight information and data to post the whereabouts of Mr Musk’s private jet.

Musk knew about @ElonJet months ago. After acquiring Twitter for $44 billion in October, he said he would allow the account to remain on the platform. “My commitment to free speech even extends to not banning accounts that follow my plane, even if that is an immediate personal safety risk,” Mr Musk tweets last month.

Sweeney’s personal Twitter account was also suspended on Wednesday, along with other accounts he runs that track the jets of tech billionaires including Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates. Mr. Sweeney shared a message he received from Twitter saying his account had been suspended for violating the rules against platform manipulation and spam.

In an interview, Mr. Sweeney said he had not changed the way the plane-tracking accounts behaved, nor had he been told exactly why the accounts were suspended. “He did the exact opposite of what he said,” he said of Mr. Musk, adding that the suspension felt arbitrary given how many months the accounts had been in existence.

Since taking over Twitter, Mr. Musk has been deciding what content and accounts should and should not be on the platform. He initially said he would form a committee to make decisions on content moderation, but has since dropped those plans. He also welcomed the reinstatement of former President Donald J. Trump’s account and announced amnesty for people, including white nationalists, who have been suspended for violating Twitter’s rules on hate speech or inciting violence.

Musk and Twitter did not respond to requests for comment.

Before owning Twitter, Mr. Musk offered Mr. Sweeney $5,000 to take @ElonJet offline; he later blocked the student after Mr. Sweeney tried to negotiate. Mr. Sweeney has since created more than two automated Twitter accounts, using public flight data to track the planes of tech billionaires, Russian oligarchs, and national and international government agencies.

Jason Calacanis is a technology investor and an advisor to Musk on the acquisition of Twitter. tweets On Wednesday, his personal conviction was that “the persistent sharing of public location information is effectively doxxing,” a phrase often used for sharing private information on the Internet.

Mr Sweeney said the information shared on the account had been made public.

“If someone wants to do something, they can do it without me,” he said.

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