Elon Musk says he won’t ban the Twitter account that tracks his jet due to his commitment to free speech. He previously offered the owner $5,000 to take it down.

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Elon Musk.Adrees Latif/Reuters

  • Elon Musk said he won’t ban the Twitter account that tracks his private jet.

  • Musk previously offered the account owner, Jack Sweeney, $5,000 to take it down.

  • Sweeney thanked Musk and told Insider he’d still be open to discussing a new deal to take it down.

Elon Musk said on Sunday he won’t ban the Twitter account that tracks the travels of his private jet because of his free speech principles.

The account @ElonJet, run by 20-year-old college student Jack Sweeney, accesses publicly available air-traffic data to share updates about when and where the jet departs and lands and how long the trips last. Sweeney maintains more than 30 jet-tracking accounts.

Musk previously offered Sweeney $5,000 to take down the account and asked for advice on how to make his jet less trackable, Insider’s Isobel Asher Hamilton reported in January. Sweeney previously told Insider he turned down the offer because he had put a lot of work into the account and got too much satisfaction from doing it, saying he would need $50,000 to give it up. Last month, Musk appeared to start using a new privacy program Sweeney recommended to him that helps block jet tracking.

Musk, who finally took over Twitter on October 27, has been sharing updates of his plans for the platform. In a tweet Sunday, he said he would not shut down Sweeney’s account.

“My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk,” Musk wrote.

Sweeney told Insider in a phone interview Sunday he was “pleased” Musk addressed his account but wasn’t surprised by his decision.

“I kind of figured that was his stance because if it wasn’t people would be after him for saying one thing and then coming and banning my account,” Sweeney, who is a fan of Musk’s, said. “It’s still cool to see that he actually said something and acknowledged my account.”

Sweeney said he was surprised Musk even mentioned it all, adding that the tweet likely drew additional attention to his account. He also speculated Musk may have mentioned it to draw negative attention to the account, adding Tesla fans in the past have criticized him and accused him of endangering the billionaire.

Sweeney said he hasn’t communicated with Musk since January — when Musk told him it didn’t feel right to pay to have the account removed — but that he’d still be open to a deal that would involve taking it down.

He also responded to Musk directly in a tweet, thanking him for his commitment to free speech, adding that “overwhelmingly the followers of my account are supporters and admirers of your endeavors.” Sweeney said he condemns the use of his account for tracking Musk down or looking for him in person.

As far as banning accounts, Musk has decided to do so for other reasons: In another tweet on Sunday, Musk said Twitter would be “permanently suspending” accounts for impersonations after several blue-check verified users tested out the company’s content moderation policies by changing their display names to “Elon Musk.”

Comedian Kathy Griffin’s account appeared to be suspended after she changed her display name and photo to match Musk’s and tweeted: “Hey complainers and activists. Want to see real activism? Watch this. RT w/ #VoteBlue.” Other accounts appeared to be suspended after donning Musk’s name and tweeting things like “my wife left me” and “There is nothing better than waking up and enjoying a fresh, steaming cup of my own urine.”

“Going forward, any Twitter handles engaging in impersonation without clearly specifying ‘parody’ will be permanently suspended,” Musk said, adding that previously users were issued a warning before a suspension.

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment about the accounts or a decision to suspend them for impersonations.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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