“Can you take this down? It is a security risk,” the Tesla billionaire reportedly DM’d the 19-year-old student.
Jack Sweeney, a 19-year-old student at the University of Central Florida, launched a Twitter bot that posts the location of the Tesla and SpaceX CEO’s private plane using publicly available data back in 2020.
But as the “Elon Musk’s Jet” Twitter account grew in popularity (followers currently number over 300,000), Musk reached out to Sweeney with an offer of $5,000 to purchase the account.
“Can you take this down? It is a security risk,” Musk said in DMs, adding that the student would be “generally helping make it harder for crazy people to track me,” per Business Insider.
Sweeney countered with an offer of $50,000, saying that the money would go toward college funding or buying a Tesla Model 3. But while Musk reportedly considered the counteroffer at first, he changed his tune later, saying it “doesn’t feel right to pay to shut this down.”
Even though Musk’s pilots evidently implemented a blocking system that changes his jet’s identifier to make it harder to track, Sweeney has still been able to modify his bot’s code to keep tabs on the tech tycoon’s airtime.
“I just have to work around it,” Sweeney told Business Insider, adding that he decided to go public after Musk lost interest in the deal.
“He went the opposite way of me, so why wouldn’t I go the opposite way of him?”
And based on tweets posted by “Elon Musk’s Jet,” it doesn’t sound like Sweeney will be deactivating the account anytime soon.
“This account has every right to post jet whereabouts, ADS-B data is public, every aircraft in the world is required to have a transponder, Even AF1 (@AirForceTrack) Twitter policy states data found on other sites is allowed to be shared here as well.”
“Taking down my account won’t fix the issue, my code is open-sourced others said they would recreate it anyway. Taking down this account doesn’t stop someone determined from doing something bad they could still go to other websites.”