Free-speech “absolutist” and Twitter CEO Elon Musk appears to have had a change of heart in allowing an account that tracked the movements of his private jet to remain on his social network.
On Wednesday, Twitter permanently banned @ElonJet, a bot account that used publicly available data to track the locations of Musk’s personal private jet, a Gulfstream G700. That’s despite Musk’s previous claim that he would not shut down the account.
“My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk,” the billionaire tweeted Nov. 6, a little over a week after he closed the $44 billion Twitter takeover.
Musk has not commented on the Twitter ban of @ElonJet, which prior to its termination had more than 526,000 followers.
The jet-tracking bot on Twitter was created by Florida college student Jack Sweeney. According to CNBC, Musk had previously offered to pay Sweeney $5,000 to delete the account because it was a safety risk. On Dec. 10, Sweeney posted tweets indicating that Twitter had “shadow-banned” the @ElonJet account, meaning its visibility was being limited. Two days later, however, Sweeney posted that the account was “longer banned or hidden in anyway. I think Twitter noticed my tweets and back tracked. Guilty in my book.”
Following the suspension Wednesday of @ElonJet, Sweeney tweeted, “Can I have my 8$ back?” (referring the price of the Twitter Blue subscription service, which now provides eligible accounts with blue check-mark status). He also launched a new jet-tracking account on Mastodon, an alternate social platform that has become popular among people quitting Twitter.
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