- Jack Sweeney said he feels Twitter focuses too much on policing content that impacts its owner.
- Sweeney said some real-time flight-tracking accounts haven’t been banned, despite Twitter’s policy.
- The college student had over 30 accounts banned after Elon Musk instituted a policy change.
Jack Sweeney, the college student known for tracking Elon Musk’s private jet, said he feels Twitter’s policy enforcement has become increasingly inconsistent since the Tesla CEO took over last year, especially when it comes to policing accounts that directly involve the billionaire.
“Even if Elon is trying to be fair, it’s not really fair because he has a specific eye on everything that involves him,” Sweeney told Insider, speaking about moderation at Twitter. “It seems like content that impacts him is going to be monitored more because that’s what he cares about.”
Sweeney’s personal Twitter account and all of his over 30 accounts that tracked the private jets of public figures including Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Vladimir Putin, and Donald Trump were banned late last year. At the time, Musk had threatened to take legal action against Sweeney after he said on Twitter that a “crazy stalker” had followed a car that was carrying his son and attributed the issue to Sweeney jet-tracking account. The billionaire then changed Twitter’s policies to prevent accounts from sharing an “individual’s live location.” Under the policy, Twitter users are prohibited from sharing any real-time location data outside of their own location or “location information related to a public engagement or event, such as a concert or political event.”
Since then, Sweeney has opened up a new personal account, as well as Twitter accounts that track Musk’s private jet and Gov. Ron DeSantis’ aircraft, though his Twitter accounts now share the data with a 24 hour delay to avoid violating the platform’s policy — a change that Sweeney says has caused him to lose thousands of followers. His personal account has less than a hundredth of the followers it had before he moved to sharing the data with a delay, Sweeney said. Some have moved to following the college student on Instagram of Facebook, where he said he saw an influx of new followers after he was initially banned on Twitter.
Sweeney’s accounts have been banned for over six months. But he said he’s seen multiple accounts pop up recently that share real-time flight data. They range from accounts broadcasting the locations of individuals, like former president Donald Trump and race car driver Max Verstappen, to more general location tracking of various types of airplanes, as well as one-off posts on the locations of various public figures. Most recently, several users have taken to posting real-time flight data related to Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin amid the short-lived rebellion in Russia. Insider was able to identify multiple accounts on Twitter that shared real-time flight data but have not been banned.
Insider reached out to Twitter for comment about the specific accounts and Sweeney’s complaint, but only received an automated response that didn’t address the questions.
“It’s kind of angering when other people are able to do it and I’m not allowed to because I have this big target on my back,” Sweeney said.
Sweeney previously told Insider in March that he reported an account that had shared the location of an NFL player, but was told by Twitter the account “hasn’t broken any safety policies.” The tweet has since been removed.
“It’s hypocritical for him to say that it’s a town square and that everyone’s treated by the same rules when that’s obviously not true,” the college student added, regarding Musk’s decision to ban his previous accounts. “There’s some people getting away with stuff that people who are perceived as Musk’s critics like myself never could do.”
Sweeney pointed to accounts of top Musk critics like Aaron Greenspan that have been banned seemingly without any specific reason in recent months.
The UCF student isn’t the first to point out that Musk might have a heavy hand on Twitter content that involves his name. In February, Platformer reported that Musk told several Twitter engineers to investigate why his tweets were getting less views and later had staff boost his tweets in the platform’s algorithm.
While Sweeney doesn’t view himself as a critic of Musk, the billionaire has taken aim at the college student several times over the past year. Earlier this year, Musk dismissed a question from a BBC reporter that asked if he was “flexing his muscle overly” when he banned Sweeney’s accounts, after initially saying when he took over Twitter that he wouldn’t ban the accounts.
When Musk first offered to buy Twitter, Sweeney said he thought it was likely that Musk would try to shut down the account. The college student turned down a $5,000 offer from Musk to take down the account last year after the billionaire called the account a “security risk” and said he didn’t want to be “shot by a nutcase.”
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