Elon Musk has introduced an interesting new policy at Twitter, which could have some implications for avgeeks…
Elon Musk’s private jet fiasco leads to new Twitter rules
Yesterday I wrote about how Twitter suspended the @ElonJet account, which was an account that tracked the location of Elon Musk’s private jet using publicly available data. This was noteworthy because this account was getting under Musk’s skin even before he purchased Twitter. Earlier this year, he had offered the teen behind this $5,000 to take down the account.
When Musk bought Twitter, he specifically Tweeted how he was so committed to free speech that he wouldn’t ban this account, even though it’s a direct personal safety risk.
At least that was the case until yesterday. Yesterday morning the @ElonJet Twitter account was suspended, and then yesterday afternoon Twitter instituted some new rules (at which point the account was reinstated).
With Twitter’s new rules, any account sharing real-time location info on anyone else can be suspended. This includes posting links to sites with real-time location info. However, posting locations someone traveled to on a slightly delayed basis is permitted. Here’s the relevant part of what’s not allowed per the new rules:
live location information, including information shared on Twitter directly or links to 3rd-party URL(s) of travel routes, actual physical location, or other identifying information that would reveal a person’s location, regardless if this information is publicly available;
Why this policy could impact avgeeks
It’s pretty clear that the motivation for this change is that Musk doesn’t want his private jet tracked. Bigger picture, though, this could have some implications for avgeeks. Like many others in our community, I enjoy tracking flights, and I do it all day for fun, through Flightradar24. I’m not typically doing it because I’m trying to track anyone in particular, but rather just because I like planes. So these new rules are a bit confusing.
What’s interesting here is that Musk says this is all about avoiding doxxing. For those not familiar with the term, doxxing is “searching for and publishing private or identifying information about (a particular individual) on the internet, typically with malicious intent.”
When people post flight tracking information online, that’s specific to a plane, and not specific to a person. There are lots of people and companies out there with private jets, and it’s anyone’s guess when a particular person is actually on that plane. “A private jet owned by Elon Musk is flying” is different than saying “Elon Musk is flying on his private jet.”
If you take the new rules at face value, Flightradar24 Tweeting about Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan earlier this year would violate the rules. And the hundreds of thousands of people Tweeting about this would have been suspended.
The implications of this could range from sharing the location of a government jet on a state visit, to a picture of a gate area party prior to an inaugural flight to somewhere.
All that being said, broadly speaking I personally don’t think this policy change is unreasonable. Admittedly I didn’t buy Twitter for $44 billion in the name of preserving free speech, but I do believe that a higher level of moderation on Twitter is useful. Hate speech should be moderated, in my opinion, and I also think it’s perfectly reasonable that people should have a right not to be doxxed, and should be able to maintain some level of privacy.
Now, I’m not sure I’d consider tracking someone’s private jet (without knowing whether someone is on it) to be doxxing, but that’s a different story.
Effective immediately, Twitter is banning sharing the locations of others, to avoid doxxing. This seems to have been brought about because Elon Musk doesn’t want his private jet tracked, even though he said he was so committed to free speech that he wouldn’t stop his private jet from being tracked.
If this policy were enforced as published, then this would certainly limit the ability to post about flight tracking.
What do you make of this Twitter policy change?