With more than 25 accounts suspended in the space of a day, the boss of Twitter goes on the hunt against users following the movements of private planes of personalities.
The account automatically reporting the routes of Elon Musk’s private jet was suspended on Wednesday December 14 by the platform despite the entrepreneur’s promise not to touch it, thus illustrating his variable geometry approach to moderation.
The account had been restored at the end of the day on Wednesday in the United States, its owner Jack Sweeney tweeting: “I’m back!”. Before finally being suspended again in the evening.
“My commitment to freedom of expression goes so far as not to ban the account that follows my plane, even if it poses a direct risk to my personal safety,” Elon Musk wrote on Twitter in early November, a few days later. having bought the platform for 44 billion dollars.
“Account suspended” was it written simply on the account in question, dubbed @ElonJet, on Wednesday. Created by a student and followed by around 500,000 people, @ElonJet used public data to automatically indicate when and where the Spacex and Tesla boss’s device took off and landed.
Before seeing this account suspended, Jack Sweeney pointed out that he had “all rights to transmit information” on the jet insofar as the data is public and that all planes have the obligation to be equipped with a transponder, a device intended to help their identification by radar.
“Twitter policy states that data found on other sites may be shared here as well,” the post read.
More than 25 suspended accounts
“Posting someone’s location in real time violates doxing regulations, but posting it offline is allowed,” Elon Musk tweeted on Wednesday, the term “doxing” meaning publicly disclosing on the internet the more often, personal information relating to an individual, without his consent.
The student’s personal account, Jack Sweeney, has also been suspended. The same goes for other accounts created by the 20-year-old, which tracked the movements of other celebrities’ private jets. Just like Elon Musk’s plane, those of Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos or even Bill Gates saw their routes informed on Twitter.
In total, the New York Times indicates that more than 25 accounts scrutinizing the devices of government agencies, billionaires or personalities have been suspended. This summer, a similar account (always available) had gained momentum by following the private plane of Bernard Arnault. The boss of LVMH had preferred to sell the jet and opted for rentals in order to travel anonymously.
Twitter has gone even further: it is impossible to share in a tweet the link of the Instagram account that follows Elon Musk’s private jet.
An error message appears stating: “Your tweet has not been published as this link has been identified by Twitter or our partners as potentially harmful”. On the other hand, it is still possible to publish it from the Instagram tab “copy the url and share”.
Since his arrival at the head of the platform, the multi-billionaire has sent mixed messages about what is authorized or not. Fervent defender of a great freedom of expression – as long as the remarks respect the law – he restored accounts previously banned by the social network, including that of Donald Trump.
But he also suspended that of Kanye West after the publication of several messages deemed anti-Semitic and refused the return to the platform of the far-right conspirator, Alex Jones.
Elon Musk has also promoted in recent days the publication of several series of “Twitter files”, internal documents supposed to illustrate questionable moderation practices under the previous management.
He also personally attacked former Twitter security chief Yoel Roth, who later had to leave his home for security reasons, according to US media.
The co-founder and ex-boss of the platform, Jack Dorsey, publicly defended his former colleagues on Tuesday, saying in a message that the attacks against them “can be dangerous and do not solve anything”.
He also defended the idea that “only the original author of content should be able to delete it” and that moderation should not be done via a “centralized system” but carried out by algorithms designed by the general public.