Twitter Bans Sharing Live Locations Of Others

Twitter Bans Sharing Live Locations Of Others

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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.

Bottom line

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?

Conversations (27)
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  1. Euro Aviation Guest

    Surely all rich and famous want their privacy under the claim it's for their personal security. If he were king he'd ban paparazzi, well, only for himself. But to a point he could have enjoyed the notoriety when he wasn't. Then he just might have arranged that encounter with his car as it passed that point.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      Didn't you just describe Zelenskyy?

  2. Derek Guest

    So, what are the everyday implications of this to us frequent travelers?

    Does this mean I cannot use Twitter anymore to contact my airline or hotel chain for assistance when a problem arises ("I am at XXX Airport and my flight to YYY was just cancelled" or "I am at Hilton/Marriott/Hyatt in XXX and need assistance with...") ?

    Confused.

  3. STEFFL Member

    VERY INTERESTING BEN,
    . . . reading your lines how you bash Elon Musk and his new rules and bans on twitter.
    YOU, the person who is not even sharing dates of his travel and does NOT respond to messages while still at the destination, to NOT being able to be tracked down, BUT pointing with your fingers at others who try to be just as private as you are . . ....

    VERY INTERESTING BEN,
    . . . reading your lines how you bash Elon Musk and his new rules and bans on twitter.
    YOU, the person who is not even sharing dates of his travel and does NOT respond to messages while still at the destination, to NOT being able to be tracked down, BUT pointing with your fingers at others who try to be just as private as you are . . . . that makes me wonder!
    It's EVERYBODY'S private thing to state a location or even a place they are right now, tracking has NOTHING to do with free speech!
    It's simply a precaution!

    1. henare Diamond

      The thing about Musk's changes is that they have mostly been self-serving. He clearly DGAF about anything that affects others.

  4. Rob Guest

    To be fair, you didn't mention that Musk did this after a crazy guy blocked the car his son was travelling in, thinking Musk was there, and jumped on the hood of the car.

    1. Rob Guest

      https://www.thestreet.com/technology/elon-musk-launches-a-manhunt-after-alarming-incident?

  5. John Guest

    Musk: how dare you use personal data for your benefit. That's my job.

  6. Lee Guest

    The former chief of security at Facebook mentioned a moderation method that one might apply in this type of scenario. If a person's location is identified by an established news outlet, the person's position can be tweeted. If a person's location is identified by another means, no. This would address the case in which "John Smith is now entering the court house to offer testimony."

    Now, if Mr. Musk would just reestablish the unit that...

    The former chief of security at Facebook mentioned a moderation method that one might apply in this type of scenario. If a person's location is identified by an established news outlet, the person's position can be tweeted. If a person's location is identified by another means, no. This would address the case in which "John Smith is now entering the court house to offer testimony."

    Now, if Mr. Musk would just reestablish the unit that monitored tweets for child exploitation, that would be great.

  7. LarryInNYC Diamond

    The policy, as stated in the tweet, would ban all live news reporting ("Mr Ray is now taking his place in the committee room for his testimony", etc).

  8. Sel_D Member

    Completely biased decision, but reasonable nonetheless. Moderating hate speech is tough, as the definition is oh so subjective and it’s a slippery slope. As we saw with previous leadership, many tweets/accounts were mislabeled as hate speech and removed to advance lopsided political narratives.

    1. LarryInNYC Diamond

      No "hate speech" involved here, simply publication of public location data for an airplane.

  9. Tim Dunn Diamond

    government planes other than for the President are not unique to a specific individual. And he has a host of security mechanisms that no other person in the world has, including what is on the aircraft itself.

    Yet again, Musk is bringing the sanity back into social media.

    the world has gone a step too far when it expects to be able to track the movements of individuals.

    1. LarryInNYC Diamond

      Not tracking an individual, just an airplane. And, in any event, the airplane is exactly as trackable today as it was yesterday. It's just a matter of whether the tweeter will be allowed to say where the airplane is, or not.

    2. Chris Guest

      Of course. Of course this is the Tim Dunn take.

      "the world has gone a step too far when it expects to be able to track the movements of individuals."

      Perhaps ask old mate Musk to turn this feature off for his Twitter and Tesla subscribers.

  10. Robert Guest

    All this means it's that Twitter's value is diminished. I'm only using it now for direct messages to responsive companies like Hyatt or Southwest and for nothing else. I suppose if Musk wants to hurt his own investment then that's his business and not mine.

  11. Sir Digby Chicken Caesar Guest

    Will there now be an option to turn off the tracking in Tesla’s cars, or will Elon still be able to track us whilst we can’t track him?

  12. Ralph4878 Guest

    Indicating the physical location of someone is a safety violation...but hate speech and advocating physical attacks on lawmakers one disagrees with, trans folks, People of Color, and Jews isn't? Got it.

    1. stogieguy7 Member

      Oh please, cut the drama queen crap. I'm sure that you had no issue with old Twitter pulling the rug out from Trump's speech while providing a platform to Putin, the Iranian Mullahs (who execute gays and protesters) and other worldwide cretins. Your "outrage" is overly selective and I call BS.

    2. Ben L. Diamond

      Twitter banned Trump because he incited a violent attack on the Capitol to try to overturn the election. Hope this helps.

    3. Dt123 Member

      What were trumps last two tweets on Twitter?

      Does Twitter remove/ban people for what they do in their personal life? (This isn't sarcasm, I actually want to know, because I thought that only a direct call to violence on/ via Twitter would get you banned)

    4. Ralph4878 Guest

      @stogieguy7 - Yes, my outrage is selective: I choose not to support racism, homophobia, transphobia, anti-Semitism, or political violence - all things Trump - and others - have embraced on Twitter and beyond. If you don't agree those things are horrible, just say that - no need to resort to personal attacks.

  13. justlanded Guest

    No NORAD Santa Tracker tweets...

  14. Endre Guest

    sadly, you failed to mention that Twitter also suspended the account following Bezos’ jet. It is not just about the oh-so evil Musk.

  15. Klaus Guest

    …didn’t he just share the location of a supposed stalker including publishing the face and license plate of this guy?

  16. Jay Guest

    Should correct past articles discussing how Jack was able to track Elon and other aircraft not trackable via the usual tracking sites.

    He has access to ADSBexchange data. ADSBexchange doesn't utilize the FAA's SWIM feed and that's why he's able to circumvent the FAA's privacy programs.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Ralph4878 Guest

Indicating the physical location of someone is a safety violation...but hate speech and advocating physical attacks on lawmakers one disagrees with, trans folks, People of Color, and Jews isn't? Got it.

7
Sir Digby Chicken Caesar Guest

Will there now be an option to turn off the tracking in Tesla’s cars, or will Elon still be able to track us whilst we can’t track him?

6
Ben L. Diamond

Twitter banned Trump because he incited a violent attack on the Capitol to try to overturn the election. Hope this helps.

5
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