Elon Musk offered a teenager $5,000 to stop tracking his private jet, but I guess he wasn’t open to negotiations.
Musk doesn’t want his private jet tracked
Tech (multi-hundred) billionaire Elon Musk has a private jet. Specifically, he has a 2015 Gulfstream G650ER with the registration code N628TS. An interesting story is coming out about how Musk tried to pay a teen to stop publicly tracking his plane.
Since June 2020, 19-year-old college student Jack Sweeney has been running a Twitter account with the handle @ElonJet. This Twitter account has posted the whereabouts of Musk’s jet, using public ADS-B data. While Musk’s jet is blocked in the FAA database that many tracking sites use, it’s still visible with ADS-B data, but the process of tracking does require a bit of work.
Musk wasn’t happy about having his aircraft tracked, so in late 2021 he sent the teen a direct message on Twitter, and in part the conversation went like this:
Musk: “Ok, how about $5k for this account and generally helipng make it slightly harder for crazy people to track me?”
Sweeney: “Sounds doable, account and all my help. Any chance to up that to $50k? It would be great support in college and would possibly allow me to get a car maybe even a Model 3. Would love to help you out.”
Musk reportedly stopped responding after that, so no deal was reached, and Musk’s jet is continuing to be tracked. Interestingly the teen said he eventually wants to work for one of Musk’s companies, so I guess that’s not going all too well based on the lack of a deal and him continuing to do the tracking service.
More recently, Musk has once again made it clear he doesn’t like having his travel tracked over security concerns. For example, in mid-January, when a Tesla investor posted about a planned flight for Musk, the billionaire wasn’t happy, saying “yeah, unfortunately this is becoming a security issue.”
I’m not sure there’s a solution here?
A few thoughts based on this situation:
- It’s funny that Musk was willing to pay $5K but not $50K, both of which are the equivalent of a fraction of a cent for most of us; or maybe he just lost focus and forgot about this
- The reality is that even if he paid this teen to take down the account, someone could have easily replicated this
- While I can appreciate that Musk has safety concerns, at the end of the day there’s only so much privacy you can expect as a very public figure who is constantly moving around
- With Musk’s $200+ billion, I think he could probably afford a proper security detail that rivals the Secret Service, which would be his best bet for staying safe
- If somebody actually had bad intentions based on Musk’s travel plans, I think they’d be able to figure out his whereabouts without the help of this Twitter account
A Twitter account has been tracking the location of Elon Musk’s private jet for well over a year now, using publicly available data. Musk has security concerns about this, which I suppose is understandable, though at the same time there’s only so much that can be done to protect public data.
Musk was willing to pay $5K for the Twitter account to be shut down. When the teen behind it tried to negotiate $50K, Musk went silent.
Where should the line be drawn when it comes to privacy around flight data?