Elon Musk bans Twitter users who follow Musk’s private jet

“Any account doxxing real-time location information of anyone will be banned as a physical security breach,” Musk tweeted.

SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter on Wednesday suspended an account that used publicly available flight data to track Elon Musk’s private jet, despite a pledge from the social media platform’s new owner to keep it going because of him Principles of Free Speech.

Then, hours later, Musk brought back the jet-tracking account after imposing new conditions on all Twitter users — no more sharing anyone’s current location.

Tweets from the widely shared @elonjet account were no longer visible for much of Wednesday. As of Wednesday evening, the account was blocked again. The account had more than 526,000 followers a day earlier.

“He said this was free speech, and he’s doing the opposite,” Jack Sweeney, the 20-year-old sophomore and programmer who opened the flight-tracking account, said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Sweeney said he woke up on Wednesday to a barrage of messages from people who saw @elonjet was banned and all his tweets were gone. Launched in 2020 when Sweeney was a teenager, the account automatically published the Gulfstream jet’s flights with a map and an estimate of the amount of kerosene and carbon emissions it used.

He logged into Twitter and saw a notice that the account was permanently banned for violating Twitter Rules. But the note didn’t explain how it broke the rules.

Sweeney said he immediately submitted an online form to appeal the suspension. Later, his personal account was also suspended, with a message saying it had violated Twitter’s “against platform manipulation and spam” rules.

And hours later, the flight tracking account was back. Sweeney said his appeal appears to have been successful. Musk and Twitter’s policy team then attempted to state publicly that Twitter now has new rules.

“Any account doxxing real-time location information of anyone will be banned as a physical security breach,” Musk tweeted. “This includes posting links to websites with real-time location information. Posting places someone has traveled to with a bit of delay isn’t a security issue, so it’s fine.”

“Doxxing” generally refers to the public disclosure of an individual’s identity, address, or other personal details.

For Sweeney, it was the latest in a longstanding feud with the billionaire. The University of Central Florida student said Musk sent him a private message last year offering $5,000 to close the jet-tracking account, citing security concerns. Musk later stopped communicating with Sweeney, who never deleted the account. Your exchange was first reported by Tech News Outlet Minutes earlier this year.

But after Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion in late October, he said he wouldn’t.

“My commitment to freedom of expression extends even to not suspending the account after my plane, even though it poses a direct personal security risk.” Musk tweeted on nov 6

Sweeney ran similar “bot” accounts that tracked other celebrities’ planes. Hours after the @elonjet account was suspended, other accounts run by Sweeney that tracked private jets used by Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and various Russian oligarchs were still active on Twitter.

But later Wednesday, Twitter suspended everyone, including Sweeney’s personal account. He also runs accounts tracking Musk’s jet on competing social platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment. Musk has promised to remove auto-generated spam from the platform, but Twitter allows automated accounts to be marked as such — like Sweeney’s.

In his note to Sweeney about the suspension, which he shared with the AP, he said: “You may not use the services of Twitter in any manner intended to artificially amplify or suppress information or engage in any behavior that manipulates or disrupts people’s experience on Twitter.” But that reasoning was different from what Musk explained later Wednesday.

Sweeney days earlier accused Musk’s Twitter of using a filtering technique to hide his tweets, revealing what he says was leaked internal communications showing an executive responsible for moderating Twitter content Trust and Security Department She ordered her team to suppress the account’s reach. The AP was unable to independently verify these documents.

Sweeney said he suspects the short-lived ban was due to anger over those leaks.

Musk has previously criticized this filtering technique — nicknamed “shadowbanning” — claiming it was unfairly employed by former Twitter leadership to suppress right-wing accounts. He said the new Twitter will still lower the reach of negative or hateful messages but will be more transparent.

In his quest to relax Twitter’s content restrictions, he has reinstated other high-profile accounts that have been permanently banned for violating Twitter’s rules against hateful behavior, harmful misinformation, or inciting violence.

Sweeney said he originally created Musk’s jet tracker because “I was interested in him as a Tesla and SpaceX fan.”

In the weeks since Tesla CEO took over Twitter, @elonjet account Musks has made many overland trips from his home base near Tesla’s headquarters in Austin, Texas, to various California airports for his work at Twitter’s San Francisco and his rocket recorded company SpaceX.

It showed Musk flying to cities on the East Coast ahead of major events, and to New Orleans just prior to a Dec. 3 meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron.

In a January post pinned to the top of the jet-tracking account’s feed before it was banned, Sweeney wrote that it has “every right to publish jets’ whereabouts” because the data is public and “every Every plane in the world is required to have a transponder,” including Air Force One, which carries the US President.

https://www.kvue.com/article/news/nation-world/twitter-changes-rules-suspends-account-tracking-elon-musk-jet/507-66348a0b-e4bc-4387-af2a-6a52837b0843 Elon Musk bans Twitter users who follow Musk’s private jet

Laura Coffey

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