Twitter Suspends Accounts Tracking Private Jets, Changes Doxxing Policy Over ‘Risk of Physical Harm’

Twitter Suspends Accounts Tracking Private Jets, Changes Doxxing Policy Over ‘Risk of Physical Harm’
A private jet is seen on the tarmac at Friedman Memorial Airport in Sun Valley, Idaho on July 4, 2022. ( Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
Tom Ozimek

Twitter has suspended multiple accounts that tracked the movements of private planes—including those belonging to Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos—and announced changes to its doxxing policy, prohibiting sharing of real-time location information or linking to external sources that share such data, citing a “risk of physical harm.”

Twitter Safety said in a series of posts on Dec. 15 that the social media platform had updated its Private Information policy that bans 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 stated.

Users will still be able to share their own live location on Twitter, and content that shares live location information pertaining to public events or engagements, such as concerts, will also be allowed.

“Tweets that share someone else’s historical (not same-day) location information are also not prohibited by this policy,” Twitter Safety said.

In line with the new policy, Twitter has suspended the jet tracking accounts of Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks at a gaming convention in Los Angeles, Calif., on June 13, 2019. (Mike Blake/Reuters)
Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks at a gaming convention in Los Angeles, Calif., on June 13, 2019. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

‘News Would Be All Over It’

Musk had previously sought to persuade the owner of the now-suspended @elonjet account, college student Jack Sweeney, to stop tracking his private plane, citing safety risks.
Sweeney told Protocol earlier this year that Musk had offered him $5,000 to shut down the jet-tracking account over security concerns. The teenager said he made a counteroffer of $50,000 or an internship opportunity with him but Musk did not take him up on the offer.
After Musk took over Twitter at the end of October, Sweeney wrote in an op-ed in Newsweek that he wasn’t concerned that the platform’s new owner would suspend the jet-tracking account.

“I’m not worried now that Musk owns Twitter. If he banned ElonJet, the news would be all over it, so I don’t think he will do it,” Sweeney said at the time.

Sweeney also wrote on his personal Twitter account that he was against people using the jet account to track down Musk and look for him in person, saying that he’s open to discussing with Musk taking the account down.

A sign at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco on Dec. 8, 2022. (Jeff Chiu/AP Photo)
A sign at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco on Dec. 8, 2022. (Jeff Chiu/AP Photo)

‘Direct Personal Safety Risk’

For his part, Musk said shortly after taking over Twitter that his “commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk.”

That has changed, however, with a number of jet-tracking accounts—including Musk’s—now suspended in line with the new policy.

Sweeney’s personal Twitter account has also been suspended.

The teenager said on Mastodon that Musk “gave me no warning” before permanently suspending his account.

“[P]lus he suspended all of my accounts, half of which track aircraft (NASA aircraft, experimental aircraft, weather, airforce etc). not people including my personal,” Sweeney added.

A screenshot of his suspension says Twitter said he violated “rules against platform manipulation and spam.”
Still, the teenager continues to track Musk’s jet on other platforms, including Facebook, where on Dec. 14 he posted the latest movements of Musk’s plane.

“Flew from LA to Austin last night right after my account was suspended on Twitter,” Sweeney said in the caption to the post.

Besides suspending Sweeney’s account on Twitter, Musk said in a tweet that he’s suing Sweeney and “organizations who supported harm to my family.”

Musk’s threat to sue Sweeney came as the Twitter chief reported that on Thursday night, a “crazy stalker” climbed onto a car carrying his 2-year-old son in Los Angeles.

“Any account doxxing real-time location info of anyone will be suspended, as it is a physical safety violation. This includes posting links to sites with real-time location info,” Musk said on Twitter, echoing the policy change announced by Twitter Safety.

Sweeney expressed disappointment that his jet-tracking account has been suspended, in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald.

“He said this is free speech and he’s doing the opposite,” Sweeney told the outlet.
The Epoch Times has reached out to Sweeney with a request for comment on the lawsuit.

‘Paparazzi, Stalkers, & Fans’

Hours before Musk threatened to take legal action against Sweeney, he responded to Jim Hall, a self-described Tesla and SpaceX enthusiast and investor, who argued that Sweeney had made it easier for “nutjobs” to find Musk and his family.
Hall shared a video of “paparazzi, stalkers, & fans” waiting for Musk outside an airport.

“The more the hate being drummed up online against Elon grows the larger the threat to Elon & his family grows. Imagine all the crazies at the extreme of both political sides targeting you nonstop,” Hall wrote.

Musk responded, “Real-time posting of someone else’s location violates doxxing policy, but delayed posting of locations are ok.”
Twitter users added context to Musk’s tweet, noting that publishing flight records “is protected under the First Amendment,” citing a related Supreme Court ruling.

The contextual note added, however, that “Twitter’s TOS prohibits sharing ‘information that would reveal a person’s location, regardless if this information is publicly available...’”

Twitter did not immediately return a request for comment.

Caden Pearson contributed to this report.