Sweeney: Musk banning ElonJet from Twitter is control issue

On Balance with Leland Vittert

(NewsNation) —  Jack Sweeney, the college student behind a now-suspended Twitter account that tracked Elon Musk’s private jet activity, says the billionaire banning his account is a “control issue.”

Musk threatened to take legal action against Sweeney on Wednesday, but Sweeney told NewsNation’s Leland Vittert that he has not heard from Musk or his attorneys yet.

“I really think he’s just putting on a bluff to be honest,” Sweeney told Vittert.

Sweeney insists he should be able to track the jet’s activity.

“It’s public information that’s already there so I should be able to share it. It’s the free speech that he promised a month ago,” Sweeney said, later adding:  “I really think it’s like a control issue of people knowing where he is and what he’s doing, less than a safety issue.”

Why is the CEO of Twitter threatening to sue a 20-year-old college student? Let’s recap.

Before Musk owned Twitter, he asked Sweeney in February to take down the account that was created more than a year ago. The account tracked the take-offs and landings of Musk’s private jet. Sweeney didn’t just track Musk’s jet, he also had accounts following other people of note like Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg.

Sweeney has refused to take down the account, insisting the data he is sharing is public information.

“This account has every right to post jet whereabouts, ADS-B data is public, every aircraft in the world is required to have a transponder, Even AF1 (Air Force Track) Twitter policy states data found on other sites is allowed to be shared here as well,” the “ElonJet” account posted on Jan. 18.

Fast forward to October ­– Musk completes a $44 billion deal to buy Twitter. He has questioned the social media platform’s stance on free speech, appearing to make it one of his main focuses.

In November, Musk said he would keep the account tracking his plane to prove his commitment to free speech. “My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk,” Musk tweeted on Nov. 6.

On Dec. 2, Sweeney says Twitter hid the visibility of the ElonJet account. When that came to light this week, the restrictions on the account were lifted.

Sweeney appeared on NewsNation on Tuesday, challenging Musk in a sense.

“I’m the one person that is showing whether he’s really going to do complete, full free speech on Twitter,” Sweeney told Vittert on Tuesday.

The following day, the ElonJet account was suspended, reportedly citing dangers to Musk’s personal safety. Sweeney says it was unsuspended and then suspended again. Musk claims a stalker followed a car carrying his son, thinking Musk himself was in the car. “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 hood. Legal action is being taken against Sweeney & organizations who supported harm to my family,” Musk tweeted Wednesday evening.

Also on Wednesday, Twitter imposed new rules that accounts cannot share someone’s current location.

Just after 5 p.m. Wednesday, the Twitter Safety account posted the social media platform has updated their private information policy to prohibit sharing someone else’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,” the Twitter Safety account tweeted.

“Doxxing” often refers to publicly sharing someone’s private information like their address or identity online. When reviewing reports of doxxing under their policy, Twitter’s Help Center states the company considers four key questions:

– What type of information is being shared?

– Who is sharing the information?

– Is the information available elsewhere online?

– Why is the information being shared?

Leland Vittert says Musk’s actions show where the Twitter CEO actually stands on free speech suppression: “Well, it didn’t take long. We have now figured out where Elon Musk draws the line about free speech when it comes to people talking about his private Gulfstream jet. That is the line.”

So, what happens next?

Sweeney said he’s waiting to see “if Musk is serious or not.”

If he could talk to Musk, Sweeney said he would say this: “I think we could work this out in a lot better way by talking it out rather than making each other look bad in anyway.”

Watch the full conversation between Sweeney and NewsNation host Leland Vittert in the video player above.

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