After a day of press coverage, @ElonJet, the account that tracked Elon Musk’s private jet travels, was briefly reinstated. @ElonJet was originally suspended on Wednesday morning, just five weeks after Musk himself promised not to ban it, and was reinstated later in the day after an update to Twitter’s privacy policies — not to mention the backlash online and in the press. About an hour after the account reappeared, it was agains suspended. It’s unclear wether the account will be permanently removed or not.
Musk’s distaste for the @ElonJet account, which used publicly available flight information to track Musk’s jet, has been known for months. In January it was reported that Jack Sweeney, the University of Central Florida student who programmed the bot account, had turned down a $5,000 offer from Musk to delete the account. “Can you take this down?” Musk reportedly asked Sweeney in a DM. “It’s a safety risk.” Sweeney countered with a $50,000 offer, but Musk — at the time known as the world’s richest man — declined. Months later, when Musk finally bought Twitter, he swore that his “commitment to free speech” was so absolute, he would leave the account up.
“My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk,” he tweeted on November 6. The tweet has since been flagged by readers who have added context, noting, “The implied account in this tweet is elonjet, which is currently banned.”
According to a report from CNN, the @ElonJet account was permanently suspended for breaking unspecified Twitter rules, though it seems to have reversed this decision. Musk himself addressed @ElonJet’s suspension on Twitter, tweeting, “Real-time posting of someone else’s location violates doxxing policy, but delayed posting of locations are ok.” (When @ElonJet’s account was reactivated on Wednesday afternoon, it tweeted that Musk deems 24 hours an acceptable “delay.”)
This new “Private information and media policy” policy specifically prohibits the sharing of “live information,” meaning “real-time and/or same-day information where there is potential that the individual could still be at the named location” — including “travel routes.” The policy states that first time offenders will receive a warning and be temporarily locked out of their accounts. A second offense will lead to a permanent suspension, but it’s unclear whether or not Sweeney was ever given a warning under these rules.
After his account was initially suspended, Sweeney told The Daily Beast on Wednesday that he was “pretty surprised,” especially after Musk had explicitly tweeted his intention to allow the account to remain active. Sweeney’s personal Twitter account, as well as his other celebrity private jet tracker account, @CelebJets, were also suspended, and remained so after @ElonJet was briefly reinstated.
Sweeney is already planning on moving beyond Twitter. He told The Daily Beast that he’s already working on building a separate website to track Musk’s private jet. In the meantime, @ElonJet can also be found on Instagram, where the account goes by @elonmusksjet, and has already continued to track Musk’s private flights. According to the account, Musk’s jet flew from LA to Austin on Tuesday night.
This post has been updated.