Elon Musk is taking action: Although he had taken over Twitter in the name of free speech, the US billionaire had a student blocked – because he had made the position of his jet public for months.
Elon Musk is a prominent advocate of free speech – which is also why the Tesla boss says he bought Twitter. However, when it comes to data that affects the US billionaire himself, Musk draws narrow boundaries. This not only affects employees at his company, but also people who publish false content on Twitter in Musk’s eyes.
Freedom of expression on Twitter yes – but with limits
In less than two months, Musk’s handling of Jack Sweeney, a student with whom he has been at odds for months over publishing the location of his private jet, has radically changed (read more here).
Musk wrote in early November, “My commitment to freedom of expression goes as far as not suspending the account that follows my plane, even if it poses an immediate personal security risk.”
Contrary to this statement, a so-called “shadow ban” was recently carried out, which severely restricted the reach of the student Sweeney. A few days later, “@elonjet”, the Twitter account that constantly tweeted the whereabouts of Musk’s private jet, was blocked.
When Jack Sweeney then began to link alternatives for the availability of his jet bot, for example with Mastodon, his personal account was blocked a few hours later. On the Twitter alternative Mastodon, Sweeney explains: “Elon didn’t warn me. He blocked all access from me.”
Musk is about security threats
Shortly thereafter, Musk spoke up. He wrote: “Any account posting someone’s real-time location data will be banned as it is a physical security breach. This includes posting links to websites with real-time location information. Posting places that someone has been associated with traveled with a slight delay is not a safety issue and is therefore fine.”
Musk later added: “Legal action will be taken against Sweeney and the organizations that supported my family’s harm.” However, Musk does not have a good chance of success, because the publication of flight data is expressly permitted in the United States Constitution.
In addition, Sweeney is only responsible for the preparation of publicly accessible data. According to the student, the whereabouts of airplanes – similar to yachts – are understandable for everyone, just very difficult to reach.
Internship instead of litigation
Musk could have gotten his jet data removed even cheaper in January, when he offered the student $5,000 to have “@elonjet” removed. The account owner raised it to $50,000 – later it is said to have been about an internship. Musk apparently declined.
The lawsuit that has now been announced is part of a mountain of lawsuits by and against Musk that arose in the course of his Twitter takeover. Which lawyers he uses remains questionable – because quite a few legal advisers are now distancing themselves from Musk (find out more here).