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Twitter took down the account that tracks Elon Musk’s jet, but the ones tracking Mark Zuckerberg and other celebrities are still up and running


Mark Zuckerberg private jet travel

Associated Press

  • Twitter suspended an account that tracks Elon Musk’s jet, but left dozens of accounts tracking other celebrities.
  • @ElonJet was suspended on Wednesday, but more than 30 accounts were still up and running.
  • The man who runs the account has expressed concern in the past that Musk would ban the account.

Elon Musk’s Twitter suspended the account that track’s the billionaire’s private jet on Wednesday but failed to address other accounts that follow the travel of dozens of celebrities.

Twenty-year-old Jack Sweeney has over 30 jet-tracking accounts on Twitter that track numerous public figures, including Donald Trump and Mark Zuckerberg, as well as celebrities like Taylor Swift and Kim Kardashian.

On Wednesday, Sweeney’s @elonjet account on Twitter had a notice on it saying it had been suspended because “Twitter suspends accounts that violate the Twitter Rules.” But, as of Wednesday afternoon, @ZuccJet and @CelebJets, as well as his other jet-tracking accounts were still posting travel updates.

Sweeney, Musk, and a Twitter spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment ahead of publication. 

The suspension could be a part of Musk’s attempts to boot bot accounts off the platform, as Sweeney’s accounts use bots to post travel data from the ADS-B Exchange, which is an independent jet-tracking website that uses publicly available data to display an aircraft’s location.

Musk has been very vocal on Twitter this week about his plans to eliminate bots, saying on Saturday that “bots are in for a real surprise.” On Tuesday, Platformer reported that Twitter accidentally blocked dozens of real Twitter users from accessing the site while trying to eliminate spam accounts.

Earlier this week, Sweeney said in a Twitter thread that he learned from an anonymous Twitter employee that his account had been shadowbanned, or partially blocked without his knowledge, which was later confirmed by Insider.

Sweeney shared a screenshot of internal messages from Twitter’s head of trust and safety Ella Irwin asking her team to apply heavy visibility filtering on the ElonJet account, which would limit its reach. 

Musk has expressed concern regarding how Jack Sweeney’s jet-tracking account, @elonjet, could impact his personal safety in the past but said in November that he wouldn’t remove 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 about a week after he bought Twitter.

When Musk first offered to buy Twitter, Sweeney said he thought it was likely that Musk would try to shut down the account. The 20-year-old college student turned down a $5,000 offer from Musk to take down the account last year after the billionaire called the account a “security risk” and said he didn’t want to be “shot by a nutcase.”

Before Musk took control of the jet-tracking accounts, the Federal Aviation Administration had already implemented two free programs that could help the planes fly incognito — but they aren’t foolproof.

The first is Limiting Aircraft Data Displayed, also known as LADD, which allows private aircraft owners to dodge plane-tracking software that uses FAA data, like FlightAware or Flightradar24. This means when searched, those tail numbers will be blocked from public view.

The second program is called the “privacy ICAO aircraft address”, or PIA, which allows aircraft owners to substitute their tail number for a temporary one not used by any other plane, allowing them to fly incognito.

According to the FAA, over 300 PIAs have been issued since December 2019 but told Insider they, as well as LADD, still “do not guarantee absolute privacy.”

This is because ADS-B Exchange does not use FAA data but instead uses data from ADS-B-equipped aircraft that broadcast information like speed and GPS location. Therefore, the website displays LADD and PIA planes, but it will not show the tail number of the latter, though it will note if the aircraft is part of either agency program.

Elon Musk's private jet flight with PIA flag.Elon Musk’s private jet flight with PIA flag, tracked by Jack Sweeney.

Jack Sweeney via ADS-B Exchange

Moreover, Sweeney’s bot still uploads PIA flights to Twitter, with the FAA telling Insider that Freedom of Information Act requests and commonly used airports are other ways to track PIA planes.

“Elon Musk, for example, has a Gulfstream and there’s only so many people that fly that particular plane out of Brownsville, Texas, and fly to the same airports,” Sweeney told Insider.

Read the original article on Business Insider