For Elon Musk, the billionaire chief executive of Tesla and founder of SpaceX, traveling by private jet is not such a private endeavor.
Jack Sweeney, 19, a freshman at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, has been tracking a Gulfstream G650ER that he identified as Mr. Musk’s private jet and posting maps of its whereabouts on a popular Twitter account since June 2020.
Mr. Musk is not the only famous person being followed by the pesky wingman, who has thwarted efforts by Mr. Musk and others to cloak their movements on aircraft-tracking applications and websites.
The nosy can also keep up with Drake, Mark Cuban, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates on Mr. Sweeney’s other accounts.
- Jack Sweeney runs a Twitter account that posts updates on the whereabouts of Elon Musk’s private jet.
- It emerged Thursday that Musk has offered to buy Twitter outright in a $43 billion deal.
- Sweeney reacted to the news by tweeting: “Oh no.”
A teenager who made an enemy of Elon Musk by creating a Twitter account to track his private jet hasn’t reacted well to the billionaire’s offer to buy the social-media platform outright.
“Oh no,” Jack Sweeney, 19, tweeted Thursday, adding: “Probably good for Twitter but probably not me lol.”
Sweeney entered the spotlight at the start of 2021 when it emerged that Musk offered him $5,000 to take down the jet-tracking Twitter account. Musk told him it was a “security risk” and he didn’t want to be “shot by a nutcase,” according to Protocol, which first reported the story.
Sweeney later told Insider he thought the amount of money Musk offered was too low for the satisfaction he got from running the account.
The account, “Elon Musk’s Jet,” has 402,000 followers. Sweeney said he started the account in June 2020 and uses bots to scrape publicly-available air-traffic data, thereby alerting the account’s followers to the movements of Musk’s private jet.
Musk said in a tweet in January that social-media accounts discussing his whereabouts were “becoming a security issue.”
Musk disclosed in early April that he’d taken a 9.2% stake in Twitter. The social media site then announced he’d been appointed to the company’s board, but said five days later that Musk had turned down the position.
Professor Calo said that as long as Mr. Sweeney did not create the flight-tracking accounts to demand money from Mr. Musk and others, it would be difficult to make a criminal case that it was extortion.
“You’d have to purposely create this harm and hold it over somebody,” he said.
Professor Calo said that it would be difficult for a public figure like Mr. Musk to bring a civil lawsuit against Mr. Sweeney contending that his privacy had been breached.
“So I think there would be real hurdles to try to pursue this kid, civilly,” he said.
Still, he cautioned that Mr. Sweeney could open himself up to litigation if he took it too far.
“That’s quite a ride,” he said. “He just has to proceed carefully from here.”
After Mr. Sweeney’s last message to Mr. Musk on Jan. 23, the exchange bore a certain finality.
“You can no longer send messages to this person,” an automated message from Twitter read.