Twitter officially banned the account of jet tracker Jack Sweeney on Wednesday, together with his other accounts that track notable people such as Elon Musk. Sweeney’s ban has been linked to an incident involving Elon Musk’s Baby X, his youngest son with record producer and musician Grimes. Twitter also updated its privacy information policy.
Jack Sweeney’s POV
Jack Sweeney’s Twitter account @ElonJet tracks the routes of the Tesla CEO’s private jet using air traffic data and posts it to the public via the social media platform. On Wednesday, Sweeney stated that his @ElonJet account, his personal account @JxckSweeney, and his other jet trackers were suspended as well. The University of Central Florida college student noted that he would continue tracking Elon Musk’s plane and sharing the information via alternative social media platforms such as Mastodon.
Before his Twitter accounts were suspended, Sweeney’s Musk jet tracker was reportedly shadowbanned. A shadowban makes it difficult for other Twitter users to find an account.
Elon Musk’s POV
Elon Musk shares some insights on why Sweeney’s jet trackers were banned through Twitter recently.
“Any account doxxing real-time location info of anyone will be suspended, as it is a physical safety violation. This includes posting links to sites with real-time location info. Posting locations someone traveled to on a slightly delayed basis isn’t a safety problem, so is ok.
“Last night, car carrying lil X in LA was followed by crazy stalker (thinking it was me), who later blocked car from moving & climbed onto the hood. Legal action is being taken against Sweeney & organizations who supported harm to my family,” Musk wrote.
Twitter’s Private Information Policy
Amidst news of Sweeney’s jet trackers’ suspensions, Twitter updated its Private Information Policy, prohibiting anyone from sharing another person’s “live” location “in most cases.”
“When someone shares an individual’s live location on Twitter, there is an increased risk of physical harm. Moving forward, we’ll remove Tweets that share this information, and accounts dedicated to sharing someone else’s live location will be suspended,” Twitter explained.
Twitter users can share their own live location. They can also share the location information of other users as long as it is not on the same day. Twitter permits users to share the location of public gatherings, such as concerts or political events—although it did not clarify if “live” locations are permitted for these types of events.
The Main Issues
- What is freedom of speech?
- Does freedom of speech have limits?
- What is privacy for public figures?
- Does affiliation with a public figure affect a person’s right to privacy?
Before acquiring Twitter, Elon Musk claimed that he wanted the platform to be a space that promotes freedom of speech. The billionaire used Sweeney’s @ElonJet account to highlight that he was committed to free speech on Twitter. At the time, Musk acknowledged that @ElonJet was a “direct personal safety risk.”
While Musk may have accepted the risk to his own safety by keeping Sweeney’s account live, his family might be a different matter. The same may go for the other people who Sweeney kept tabs on through his Twitter accounts.
However, Musk was not the only one at fault here. Sweeney’s jet tracker supposedly provides the potential locations of public figures. However, it is not always clear-cut. In the Baby X incident, for example, the alleged perpetrator may have thought that the @ElonJet account was making Musk’s potential location public, not his son’s.
The information Sweeney dispenses might be too ambiguous, and may lead to many misunderstandings. For instance, earlier this year, Taylor Swift made headlines after Yard calculated that her flight emissions were 1,184.8 times more than the average person’s. Yard based its calculations on Sweeney’s @CelebJets account. While the figure might seem shocking, a spokesperson for Swift explained that the pop star loans her jet out regularly, so Yard’s findings were argued as “blatantly incorrect.”