Elon Musk is the world’s richest man, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, and one of the most recognizable people on Earth. His many fans and supporters, whether they drive the electric automaker’s cars or are simply impressed by his work in science and automotive industries, simply want a glimpse of him. So several years ago, Jack Sweeney created a Twitter account that tracks Musk’s every flight using flight data.
Now, Musk is offering $5,000 for Sweeney to take down the site, but he won’t accept less than $50,000.
Musk first approached Sweeney via Twitter direct messages in November 2021. “Can you please stop that? It’s a security risk,” Musk asked of Sweeney, who replied that he would accept an internship, a $50,000 check for college, or a Tesla Model 3. Musk has not yet replied to any of the offers but told Sweeney it did not feel right to have to pay for his privacy.
Earlier this month, we reported that Musk was requesting any information regarding his travel plans be kept a secret. It’s a matter of security, and whether people like it or not, Musk is loved…and hated, by many people. Even those who love him could be as much of a threat as those who wish to collapse his near-trillion-dollar automotive company, and the CEO is not comfortable with his personal information being shared. Another Tesla insider was given insight by Musk earlier this month, stating that the plane trackers and accounts that track his nearly every move are “becoming a security issue.”
Celebrities can usually have private plane tracking blocked for a security measure. Sweeney, whose father works in the aviation industry, found a way around it. Handelsblatt states:
“The 15 bots used by the student retrieve flight data from so-called ADS-B transponders. They send out position data to avoid collisions and regulate air traffic. Sweeney’s computer programs learn important key data such as flight altitude or flight direction. In the next step, the bots compare this data with anonymized FAA flight plans. This is how the aircraft and the destination are identified.”
Musk’s personal jet is a Gulfstream G650ER, worth between $60 and $70 million.
Musk’s requests, and the controversy of the site, have actually done more harm than good for the CEO’s wishes. Since the issue became more public, the account has gone from just under 80,000 followers to over 210,000 in the course of just several weeks. However, it may take more than $5,000 for Sweeney to consider taking the site down. “5,000 is not enough for how much I get out of it,” Sweeney said. “It doesn’t replace anything, like the enjoyment factor,” he said. “Options other than remuneration, like an internship, would make taking it down a lot easier.”
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