The Elon Musk Jet Tracker Claims He’s Shadowbanned on Twitter
Jack Sweeney, a 19-year-old known for tracking Elon Musk’s private jet, claims the eccentric entrepreneur “shadowbanned” the @ElonJet Twitter account after he took over the platform back in October (via Business Insider).
Shadowbanning is a way for social networks like Twitter to block or limit the visibility of a user’s posts, comments, and other interactions on the platform without notifying them. Other users on the platform are unable to (easily) see any content posted by the shadowbanned user, with the latter being none the wiser.
Sweeney runs over 30 automated Twitter accounts that aggregate and share publicly available plane-tracking data. Most of these accounts track billionaires, including Musk, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Musk has previously called the @ElonJet account a “personal safety risk.” He even offered to buy the account off Sweeney for $5,000 USD at one point, although the teen tried to negotiate for a bigger settlement. Even so, Musk outright said he would not ban it due to his “commitment to free speech.”
My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 7, 2022
According to Sweeney, however, the account has been shadowbanned nonetheless. In a series of tweets dubbed, “My Twitter Files,” on Sunday, Sweeney accused Twitter of suppressing his Musk-tracking account.
The teen claimed he was told by an anonymous Twitter employee that the Sweeney that the @ElonJet account was on “visibility limited/restricted to a severe degree internally” on December 2.
Sweeney even obtained screenshots that appear to show Ella Irwin, Twitter’s VP of Trust and Safety, asking employees to “apply heavy VF [visibility filtering]” to the account.
Some users noted on Twitter that they were unable to search for the account using keywords or tag it through suggested usernames, which could be a result of the alleged filtering.
Did you know that @elonjet is de-amplified?
You can't keyword search the account or tag the account through suggested usernames.
I'm unsure if this is new due to Elon's purchase or something that's been in place, but it is interesting. pic.twitter.com/jIdMpS6cep
— ChudsOfTikTok (@ChudsOfTikTok) December 9, 2022
Earlier today, Sweeney said that the @ElonJet account was no longer banned or suppressed in any way. “I think Twitter noticed my tweets and back tracked. Guilty in my book.”
— Jack Sweeney (@JxckSweeney) December 12, 2022
Musk has repeatedly said that he doesn’t believe in permanent bans. He also started reinstating previously banned accounts, such as former U.S. President Donald Trump’s, last month.
Twitter’s recently-minted owner said last week that the platform is working on a new feature that will show users their “true account status.” This will inform users if they’ve been shadowbanned and how to appeal.
Twitter today relaunched its Twitter Blue subscription service, which includes account verification and a blue checkmark, among other things. This time, the service costs an additional $3 for iPhone users.