LONDON: Twitter Inc suspended an account tracking its owner Elon Musk's private jet in real-time, with the billionaire threatening legal action against the account's operator after saying his son had been mistakenly followed by a "crazy stalker".
The suspension comes just a month after Musk, who bought Twitter for $44 billion in October, said his commitment to free speech extended to not banning the account. ElonJet, operated by 20-year-old university student Jack Sweeney, had tracked the movements of Musk's private jet using data available in the public domain before the suspension.
Sweeney's other accounts were also suspended at the time of reporting. Twitter and Sweeney did not respond to Reuters' requests for comments.
Twitter briefly reinstated the "bot", or automated, account before again suspending it, after saying sharing "live location information" was a violation of its policy. Musk had said in a tweet in November 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".
On Wednesday, Musk said: "Any account doxxing real-time location info of anyone will be suspended, as it is a physical safety violation." "Doxxing" is the public release of sensitive information identifying an individual or organization, such as a home address or phone number.
"Posting locations someone traveled to on a slightly delayed basis isn’t a safety problem, so is ok," Musk said. The billionaire also tweeted that one of his sons, lil X, had been harassed, and linked it to the tracking accounts.
"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," he said. "Legal action is being taken against Sweeney & organizations who supported harm to my family."
Sweeney, a student at the University of Central Florida, who also operates similar bot accounts tracking Musk's jet on Facebook, Instagram and Telegram, told BuzzFeed the suspension is "a surprise to many people after he publicly said he wouldn't do it." "It just shows that they can play the rules however they want to, really, for whoever they want," he said.
Sweeney tweeted on Saturday that Ella Irwin, Twitter's vice president of trust and safety, requested the account be filtered and less visible to users.
In previous media interviews, Sweeney said he turned down a $5,000 offer from Musk in 2021 to shut down the account. Separately, Twitter accounts tracking the jets of billionaire tech entrepreneurs Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates were also suspended.