A row has broken out between the world’s richest person, Elon Musk, and a 19-year-old student and aviation enthusiast from Florida.
Jack Sweeney created the Twitter bot @ElonJet, which tracks Musk’s Gulfstream private jet and posts real-time updates of its location.
Musk, the co-founder and chief executive of Telsa and SpaceX, discovered the Twitter account and pleaded with Sweeney to delete it. “Can you take this down? It is a security risk,” Musk, who has amassed an estimated $220bn fortune, wrote in a direct messag to the teenager. “I don’t love the idea of being shot by a nutcase.”
Landed near Harlingen, Texas, US. Apx. flt. time 2 Hours : 16 Mins. pic.twitter.com/VKmkxfWyh7
— Elon Musk’s Jet (@ElonJet) January 31, 2022
After a series of messages, which Sweeney has made public, Musk offered Sweeney a deal: “How about $5k for this account and generally helping make it harder for crazy people to track me?”
Sweeney attempted to negotiate. “Any chance to up that to $50K? It would be great support in college and would possibly allow me to get a car, maybe even a [Tesla] Model 3.”
— Jack Sweeney (@JxckSweeney) January 29, 2022
Musk replied that he would think about the offer, before declining, saying it “doesn’t feel right to pay to shut this down”.
Sweeney said he had decided to go public with the correspondence in order to prompt Musk back to the negotiating table. “I’ve done a lot of work on this and 5k is not enough … ” he told Insider, “[to make up for] the fun I have in this, working on it.
“He went the opposite way of me, so why wouldn’t I go the opposite way of him?”
Sweeney said he had also offered to delete the account in return for an internship with Musk, but the billionaire had not responded to the offer.
Sweeney said he created the account because he was a fan of Musk’s. “I knew he had the jet, and I just knew it would reveal what business is going on and where he is going and stuff,” he said.
He has also set up accounts that track the private jets of Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. “We track the plane not who may or may not be onboard,” the tracker account states.