Twitter Account Tracking Elon Musk Refuses Offer of a Tesla to Shut It Down

elon musk jack sweeney

Elon Musk, world’s wealthiest and weirdest man, is no stranger to online feuds, but his latest with a Florida teenager might be the weirdest one yet.

Jack Sweeney is a 19 year-old student at the University of Central Florida and an apparent fan of Musk and his SpaceX endeavours, so much so that he started a Twitter account to follow Musk’s private jet around the world, tweeting its location.

Since June 2020, the account @elonjet has been tracking a Gulfstream G650ER private jet that Sweeney identified as belonging to Musk as a bit of a hobby. Using similar technology and programming, Sweeney is also tracking the movements of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and hip-hop star Drake.

However, as the account has now grown in popularity, Musk appears to have taken issue with it, and offered the student USD$5,000 to take it down.

jack sweeney
Image: Jack Sweeney, 19 / Twitter

In an exchange on Twitter’s direct messaging service, which Sweeney later shared with various publications, the multi-billionaire asked that he take the page down, citing security concerns.

The pair then went back and forth, discussing how public data can be used to track flights.

“Air traffic control is so primitive,” Musk wrote, before asking the teenager what he should do to increase his anonymity, saying that he doesn’t “love the idea of being shot by a nutcase.”

“Ok, how about $5k for this account and generally helping make it slightly harder for crazy people to track me?,” he offered.

Sweeney responded that the offer “sounds doable” but asked if Musk could “up that to $50k?”.

“It would be great support in college and would possibly allow me to get a car maybe even a Model 3. Would love to help you out,” Sweeney wrote back.

Musk said that he would think about it, before Sweeney instead suggested that the Tesla CEO offer him an internship. The conversation however soon died and Musk appeared to close his messaged to Sweeney.

Musk later increased the security on his jet, making it harder to track, but Sweeney quickly found a way around this and is still tweeting updates.

Since then, the internet has exploded around the Florida native, with a meme cryptocurrency coin being established called ElonJet that aims to buy Sweeney a Tesla “if Elon Musk won’t.” The coin and its creators have no affiliation with either party.

Sweeney has been inundated with media attention, including several interviews on national and local television. He appears not too perturbed by the interaction, nor scared of legal repercussions.

“All planes have transponders and they transmit their location. Basically, anybody with like a hundred dollars worth of equipment can track it. People around the world have a network of these and I get data from that network and I analyse it and put it to Twitter,” Sweeney told NewsNation Now.

Others have been quick to jump in on the action, with Scott Painter, CEO of the car-hire company Autonomy offering a Tesla Model 3 in exchange for Sweeney shutting down the account.

Sweeney responded that he was not interested in a subscription, but wanted to own a Tesla outright.

Some online are claiming that the account and the stunt has gone too far, and that there are genuine security concerns at play here. Although Sweeney runs other accounts tracking famous people, the Musk account is the only one to receive such huge attention, with over 360,000 followers to date. The account tracking former President Donald Trump has only 1,700 followers by comparison.

Still, others are inspired by the technical abilities of someone so young and he has received offers of work, with private jet chartering firm Stratos Jet Charters requesting Sweeney join their team as a tech developer.

Sweeney is still weighing up his options and his newfound status but for now seems content to continue working on his studies.

Read more stories from The Latch and subscribe to our email newsletter.