More than a week after being banned from Twitter, Jack Sweeney, the University of Central Florida sophomore who has been a pain in the side of Elon Musk for at least the past year, has a new account on the platform. Called @ElonJetNexDay, the hours-old account tracks the private jet of Elon Musk, but with a 24-hour delay.
Whether it’s the last chapter in an ongoing story remains to be seen, but you have to give it to Sweeney; he’s persistent.
Two years ago, the 20-year-old launched a Twitter account that used public data to automatically map the flights of Musk’s private jet, @ElonJet. Musk asked Sweeney back in January through a direct message on the platform to take it down in exchange for $5,000. “It’s a security risk,” Musk reportedly wrote Sweeney. “I don’t love the idea of being shot by a nutcase.” When Sweeney only half-kiddingly asked instead for a Model 3 or $50,000, Musk apparently ghosted Sweeney, but he did not forget him, plainly.
Instead, Sweeney wound up a headline story one very busy day last week after Musk, now the owner of Twitter, banned the account, costing Sweeney 530,000 followers. The impetus, Musk suggested on Twitter, was a car carrying his son X Æ A-12 that had been “followed by [a] crazy stalker” in Los Angeles.” Though there was no obvious tie between the account and the incident, Twitter soon after alerted Sweeney that “after careful review,” it had been “determined your account broke the Twitter rules,” without saying at the time which rules were violated.
Then Twitter kept shutting down more accounts, including Sweeney’s personal account (for violating Twitter’s rules against “platform manipulation and spam”); other accounts operated by Sweeney that tracked the air travel of other prominent individuals, including Musk nemesis Mark Zuckerberg; and a day later, numerous journalists who reported on the Sweeney story, including Ryan Mac of the New York Times and Drew Harwell of the Washington Post. (`Some remain locked out.)
Separately, Musk ratcheted up his focus on Sweeney, tweeting: “Legal action is being taken against Sweeney & organizations who supported harm to my family.”
Sweeney has continued all the while to operate his social media accounts elsewhere. Last week, he opened an account on the newer social media platform Mastadon that tracks Musk’s private jet in real time and has already amassed 67,000 followers; Sweeney also has pages on Facebook and Instagram that track the comings and goings of private jets, including that of Musk, and which enjoy substantial followings.
And now he’s back at it on Twitter, too, for now at least. According to its new rules, “sharing publicly available location information after a reasonable time has elapsed, so that the individual is no longer at risk for physical harm” is not a violation. With a 24-hour delay in reporting on where Musk’s private jet has traveled, @ElonJetNexDay would seem to fall within the confines of Twitter’s recently set safety parameters.
Still, it’s easy to interpret the account as Sweeney thumbing his nose at Musk, who has wielded his power as Twitter’s newfound owner erratically nearly from the day he hauled a sink into the company’s San Francisco headquarters in late October to make a joke about his takeover. (“Let that sink in.”)
Even Musk’s devoted followers on the platform appear exhausted by all the drama. When Musk asked them in a survey on Sunday if he should step down as the leader of the social media site, the vast majority of respondents answered that he should. Musk has since said he will step down as CEO once he finds “someone foolish enough to take the job!”
Persistent Jack Sweeney brings back @ElonJet (but delayed) to Twitter by Connie Loizos originally published on TechCrunch