Twitter on Wednesday suspended greater than 25 accounts that track the planes of presidency agencies, billionaires and high-profile individuals — including one which followed the movements of the social media company’s owner, Elon Musk, who has said he was committed to “free speech.”
Jack Sweeney, a 20-year-old college student and flight tracking enthusiast, said he woke up on Wednesday to search out that his automated Twitter account, @ElonJet, had been suspended. In recent months, the account amassed greater than 500,000 followers through the use of public flight information and data to post the whereabouts of Mr. Musk’s private plane. Twitter later reinstated the @ElonJet account before suspending it again.
Mr. Musk had been aware of @ElonJet for months. After buying Twitter for $44 billion in October, he said that he would allow the account to stay on the platform. “My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, although that may be a direct personal safety risk,” Mr. Musk tweeted last month.
Mr. Sweeney’s personal Twitter account was also suspended on Wednesday, together with the opposite accounts that he runs that track the planes of tech billionaires akin to Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates. Mr. Sweeney shared a message that he had received from Twitter, which said his account had been suspended for violating rules “against platform manipulations and spam.”
In an interview, Mr. Sweeney said he had not modified how the plane tracking accounts behave and was given no specific reason that that they had been suspended. “He’s doing the precise opposite of what he said,” he said of Mr. Musk, adding that the suspensions felt arbitrary provided that the accounts had existed for months.
Since taking on Twitter, Mr. Musk has gone backwards and forwards on deciding what content and accounts should and shouldn’t be on the platform. He initially said he would form a council to make decisions on content moderation but then abandoned those plans. He also welcomed back the account of former President Donald J. Trump and declared an amnesty for people, including white nationalists, who had been suspended from Twitter for violating its rules on hate speech or incitement to violence.
More on Elon Musk’s Twitter Takeover
- An Established Pattern: Firing people. Talking of bankruptcy. Telling employees to be “hard core.” Twitter isn’t the primary company that witnessed Elon Musk use those tactics.
- Who Is Paying?: Mr. Musk made Twitter Blue, an existing subscription service, the backbone of his technique to increase revenue. We checked out who has signed up for it.
- Rivals Emerge: Sensing a chance, latest start-ups and other social platforms are racing to dethrone Twitter and capitalize on the chaos of its latest ownership under Mr. Musk.
- The ‘Twitter Files’: Mr. Musk and Matt Taibbi, an independent journalist, set off an intense debate with a release of internal Twitter documents regarding a 2020 decision to limit posts linking to a report within the Latest York Post about Hunter Biden.
Mr. Musk and Twitter didn’t reply to a request for comment. But Mr. Musk said on Twitter that “real-time posting of another person’s location violates doxxing policy, but delayed posting of locations are okay.”
A review of Twitter’s “private information and media policy” showed that Mr. Musk and his team appeared to have created latest rules about live locations that were published within the last 24 hours. “If the knowledge is just not shared during a crisis situation to help with humanitarian efforts, we are going to remove any tweets or accounts that share someone’s live location,” the policy said.
But as of Tuesday, the Web Archive shows that the online page about Twitter’s policy on private information and media didn’t mention the phrase “live location.”
On Wednesday afternoon, @ElonJet was briefly reinstated after Mr. Sweeney submitted an appeal to Twitter saying that he could institute delays into his posts in regards to the locations of Mr. Musk’s plane. He said he would do the identical for his other plane tracking accounts.
On Wednesday night, Mr. Musk reiterated the brand new policy on Twitter and said he would take “legal motion” against Mr. Sweeney.
Before he owned Twitter, Mr. Musk offered Mr. Sweeney $5,000 to take @ElonJet off-line; he later blocked the coed after Mr. Sweeney tried to barter. Mr. Sweeney has since created greater than two dozen automated Twitter accounts using public flight data to trace the planes of tech billionaires, Russian oligarchs and national and international government agencies.
Jason Calacanis, a tech investor and an adviser to Mr. Musk for the Twitter takeover, tweeted on Wednesday that his personal belief was that “sustained sharing of public location information is de facto doxing,” using a phrase typically reserved for the sharing of personal information on the web.
Mr. Sweeney said that the knowledge shared on the accounts was already public.
“If someone desired to do something, they may do it without me,” he said.