Apparently Elon Musk’s commitment to “free speech” isn’t quite as strong as he had claimed…
Twitter bans @ElonJet Twitter handle
For quite some time, a Twitter account with the handle @ElonJet has been automatically posting the whereabouts of Elon Musk’s private jet. Specifically, Musk has a 2015 Gulfstream G650ER with the registration code N628TS.
The account uses publicly available ADS-B data to share this information. This would be different than if someone were leaking information from some private system, as this is all information already in the public domain. If you don’t want people to know where your private plane is, don’t have a private plane, it’s that simple.
When Elon Musk purchased Twitter, he framed it as being all about preserving free speech. In early November, he even Tweeted that “my commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk.”
Well, apparently that commitment doesn’t extend quite that far, because the account has just been permanently suspended. The owner of the account, @JxckSweeney, shared the suspension notice, which claims the account broke Twitter rules. However, it’s not clear what Twitter rules were being broken, as nothing has changed about the account in recent weeks.
Interestingly prior to the ban, the @ElonJet account seemed to be shadow banned for some period of time, whereby it didn’t show up in any search results.
Once that was exposed, that shadow ban seemed to be undone…
…only to be replaced with a permanent suspension a few days later.
Background on the @ElonJet Twitter account
For those not familiar with the backstory here, the @ElonJet Twitter account really became popular roughly a year ago, when Musk drew attention to it. Musk wasn’t happy about having his aircraft tracked, so in late 2021 he sent the teen behind the account 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. At the time the teen said he eventually wanted to work for one of Musk’s companies. I wonder if that’s still the case…
Musk claimed he would protect “free speech” at all costs (and I put that in quotes, because protecting free speech and allowing online hate and harassment aren’t the same thing). He even specifically promised he wouldn’t ban the account following his plane, even though it allegedly posed a risk to his life.
Well, that Twitter account has now been banned, even though nothing has changed about the posting behavior. It was just posting automated updates about the whereabouts of the jet, as before. It’s almost as if… well, never mind.
What do you make of this @ElonJet suspension situation?