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Elon Musk asked to pay $50K to end Twitter bot that tracks his jet

A teen who built a Twitter bot that provides real-time updates on the movements of Elon Musk’s private jet says he’ll delete the account if the billionaire entrepreneur pays him $50,000.

Jack Sweeney, 19, hit the headlines last week when a Protocol article revealed that Musk contacted the college freshman via Twitter DMs toward the end of last year, asking him to take down @ElonJet due to security concerns.

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The account, which the Florida-based Sweeney set up in June 2020 and currently has 185,000 followers, uses publicly available data and automatically posts a tweet every time Musk’s jet takes off and lands. Below is one of the bot’s recent tweets.

Took off from Hawthorne, California, US.

— Elon Musk's Jet (@ElonJet) January 30, 2022

After a short conversation via DMs, Musk offered to pay Sweeney $5,000 if he agreed to delete the account.

“Any chance to up that to $50K?,” Sweeney responded, adding that it would be “great support in college and would possibly allow me to get a car, maybe even a Model 3.”

Musk said he’d think about it, but in a later message seen by Insider  the boss of both SpaceX and Tesla said that it “doesn’t feel right to pay to shut this down.”

During their conversation, Sweeney even explained to Musk various steps he could take to make his jet harder for others to track, though the student himself still has ways of working out the aircraft’s movements.

The self-described Musk fan said that even without the payment, the experience of creating the Musk jet Twitter bot — along with 14 other similar accounts tracking the likes of Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates — has been largely a positive one, gaining him a large number of social media followers, helping him to learn how to code, and landing him a part-time job at UberJets as an app developer. The chance to converse with Musk via Twitter is possibly the icing on the cake, he said.

Musk said in a tweet last year that the matter of people posting information on his jet’s movements was “becoming a security issue.”

According to Protocol, the most recent contact between Sweeney and Musk took place in mid-January when the student said that he’d also consider an internship instead of a payment. As of January 22, Musk hadn’t opened the message, though this was likely because he was on vacation in Hawaii — according to the bot.

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