Dec 15, 2022

Elon Musk Suspends Twitter Account Tracking His Private Jet Transcript

Elon Musk Suspends Twitter Account Tracking His Private Jet Transcript
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CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan speaks with the creator of the suspended Twitter account that tracked Elon Musk’s private jet. Read the transcript here.

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Anderson Cooper (00:00):

Seems like there hasn’t been a quiet day at Twitter since its new billionaire owner, Elon Musk, took control. Tonight, a popular Twitter account that tracked Musk’s private jet has been suspended. The move comes just one month after Musk touted his commitment to free speech. It’s a very strange story that has been taking a lot of turns today. But first, the backstory from CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan.

Jack Sweeney (00:19):

I’m Jack Sweeney and I’m a student at the University of Central Florida and I’m 20.

Donie O’Sullivan (00:23):

And now he’s on the radar of the world’s richest man.

Jack Sweeney (00:26):

The data I receive is the identifier, the altitude, the latitude and longitude.

Donie O’Sullivan (00:32):

Jack Sweeney used his computer programming skills to set up ElonJet, a Twitter bot that tracked the location of Elon Musk’s private plane, all using publicly available information.

Why did you decide to set up this account?

Jack Sweeney (00:44):

I was a fan of Elon. He does some pretty cool stuff with SpaceX and Twitter, and it gives you just another view that a lot of people don’t know about where that person’s going and might give you clues as to what new business is going on.

Donie O’Sullivan (00:58):

The account racked up more than half a million followers, but Musk wasn’t too happy and Jack says last year the billionaire asked him to shut ElonJet down.

Jack Sweeney (01:07):

I was about to go to sleep and I was in a normal college dorm last time, and I remember telling my roommate, “Hey, Elon Musk, just direct message me.”

Donie O’Sullivan (01:16):

And what did the message say?

Jack Sweeney (01:18):

It said, “Can you take this down? It’s a security risk.”

Donie O’Sullivan (01:20):

A screenshot of the messages Jack says are from Musk showed the billionaire was curious, even impressed with Jack’s coding skills, asking him, “How are you able to track using a bot?”

Jack Sweeney (01:31):

I didn’t really feel like taking it down because it meant a lot to me and still does.

Donie O’Sullivan (01:34):

According to the messages, Elon said, “I don’t love the idea of being shot by a nutcase,” and then offered Jack $5,000 to shut the account down.

Jack Sweeney (01:43):

Then I basically asked for 50,000 or a Tesla and he said, “Thinking about it.”

Donie O’Sullivan (01:47):

Musk didn’t take him up in the offer. Fast forward to this November. Soon after Elon bought Twitter, he tweeted: My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk.

Now he tweeted that about a month ago. Clearly he doesn’t feel that way anymore.

Jack Sweeney (02:08):

Yeah, it’s complete opposite of what he said.

Donie O’Sullivan (02:11):

On Wednesday morning, Jack woke up to news that his ElonJet account had been suspended from Twitter, and in the afternoon, Twitter shut down his personal account.

Jack Sweeney (02:20):

I literally had just talked about how the account is like the canary in the coal mine. It just shows that he can continue to do what the last people did at Twitter and they can bend the rules however and which way they want for whoever they want.

Donie O’Sullivan (02:33):

Elon might have his billions, but Jack has at least one powerful ally in his corner.

Phyllis (02:38):

Hello again.

Donie O’Sullivan (02:39):

His grandmother, Phyllis.

What do you think of your grandson going up against the world’s richest man?

Phyllis (02:45):

Well, I don’t know, it’s, to me, because I’m a grandma, kind of scary.

Donie O’Sullivan (02:49):

You got a genius on your hands there.

Phyllis (02:51):

Oh my gosh. Even when he was two, he was a genius. He was always interested in going in the garage, and if anything was broke, he was there to fix it, put it together and he could figure it out.

Donie O’Sullivan (03:02):

Despite shutting down his accounts, Jack says he still admires Musk. If Elon said, “Hey, come work for me at Tesla or Twitter, would you take the job?”

Jack Sweeney (03:11):

Oh yeah, for sure.

Donie O’Sullivan (03:12):

If Elon Musk is watching this, what’s your message to him?

Phyllis (03:16):

Oh, he better not forget that I’m his grandma. That’s what I got to say.

Anderson Cooper (03:25):

Donie O’Sullivan joins us. I love her.

Donie O’Sullivan (03:26):

She’s a star. Yeah. I heard her in the background of the interview and I was like, “Just bring her in.”

Anderson Cooper (03:31):

That’s a very good interview move.

So what is the latest on all this?

Donie O’Sullivan (03:36):

So look, what we have since learned actually is that Musk and Twitter actually changed Twitter’s policy over the past 24 hours to make the conditions as such that this account was against those policies so it could be suspended. Look, I mean, I think-

Anderson Cooper (03:50):

So what, is a new policy if it’s a security risk for billionaires who have a private jet or … ?

Donie O’Sullivan (03:54):

Yes, essentially. Look, I mean if I had a private jet, I wouldn’t like to be tracked in real time either. And look, I think there are of course some real concerns about his safety, his family’s safety. But for this free speech absolutist and when we talk about potential speech that might cause harm, we’ve seen him the past few weeks tear up the rule book against COVID misinformation and vaccine misinformation on the platform. We’ve seen them re-platform a very prominent Neo-Nazi and white supremacist. So for this to be the issue that he’s most animated about, for this to be the speech, which by the way, this is all publicly available information, for this to be the speech that he wants to restrict more than others is of course extremely self-serving.

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