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College student who tracks Elon Musk’s private jet said he started doing it years ago because he was a fan. Now the billionaire is threatening to sue him.

Jack Sweeney and Elon MuskJack Sweeney and Elon Musk

Jack Sweeney and Getty

  • Jack Sweeney said he started tracking Elon Musk’s jet because he was a fan of the Tesla CEO.
  • On Wednesday, Musk threatened to take legal action against the college student who runs @ElonJet.
  • Sweeney has expressed admiration for Musk in the past.

Jack Sweeney said he started tracking Elon Musk’s private jet in 2020 because he was a fan. Over two years later, the billionaire is threatening to sue him after suspending his Twitter accounts.

Since its launch, Sweeney’s account that tracks Musk’s plane, @ElonJet, has garnered nearly 500,000 followers and spawned over 30 jet-tracking accounts that follow numerous celebrities — from Mark Zuckerberg and Donald Trump to Taylor Swift and Kim Kardashian. The 20-year-old has made headlines and even gotten job offers as a result of his jet-tracking accounts.

“I don’t mean any harm and that’s never the intended purpose of the accounts,” Jack Sweeney told Insider on Thursday. “I’m literally just sharing public information and the whole intended purpose of the account was originally because I was a fan of him.”

The 20-year-old has expressed his admiration for Musk in the past and even said when the billionaire bought Twitter that it would be “probably good” for the platform — though perhaps not for his jet-tracking accounts. Now, Sweeney said he’s disappointed that the relationship has turned sour and had initially hoped when Musk first reached out to him about @ElonJet earlier this year that the billionaire would understand.

“If he was the same age, I could see him doing something similar too,” Sweeney said on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Twitter suspended Sweeney’s account that track’s Musk’s private plane as well as his personal account, and over 30 other jet-tracking accounts. Later that day, @ElonJet was temporarily reinstated and Sweeney received an email saying the account had been suspended to “prevent real time location sharing” and telling the 20-year-old to “please refer to our updated policy regarding location sharing to prevent further account restrictions.” Only a few hours later, the account was once again suspended after @ElonJet tweeted asking how long he would need to delay the location data to avoid violating the policy.

Twitter updated its private information policy to prohibit users from sharing people’s live locations on Wednesday.

The same night, Musk tweeted that a “crazy stalker” followed the car in which his two-year-old son, X Æ A-Xii, reportedly was. He then said that legal actions against Sweeney and “organizations who supported harm to my family” were being taken.

Musk and a Twitter spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment by Insider.

—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 15, 2022


Sweeney told Insider he’d never call for people to stalk or hurt Musk.

“I’ve never supported harm,” he said. “I ran an account that posts public information and I wasn’t saying ‘go follow this person’ or stuff like that.”

Sweeney uses bots to scrape and post publicly available flight data that people would otherwise be able to find on their own via ADS-B Exchange. The college student also shares the tracking data on accounts on Instagram, Facebook, and Mastodon.

Sweeney added he was “not really concerned” for the moment about the legal action threat because he believes there “isn’t much ground for him [Musk] to stand on.” 

Erik Gordon, a business law professor at the University of Michigan, told Insider that while Musk doesn’t have a good legal case, a lawsuit could be costly for Sweeney.

Read the original article on Business Insider