Teen who tracks Elon Musk’s private jet and shares the location on Twitter TURNS DOWN offer of a free Tesla Model 3 in exchange for deleting the account
College freshman Jack Sweeney manages a Twitter account called @ElonJet which tracks the aircraft using bots to detect air traffic data.
Musk had previously asked for Sweeney to take the account down earlier in the fall in exchange for $5,000 but he ultimately refused and asked for an internship instead, he previously told DailyMail.com.
Car-hire company Autonomy CEO Scott Painter then offered Sweeney a Tesla Model 3 under a three-year contract via Twitter on Friday in exchange for the account deletion.
‘I told you I’m not interested in a subscription besides, there are numerous facts that suggest this is in conjunction with Elon,’ Sweeney said in response.
Sweeney said he came to the decision as he wants his own car rather than a temporary model.
‘I want my own car. I don’t want to have to give it back in three years,’ Sweeney told the Wall Street Journal. ‘If I got an actual Tesla, then I would take it down.’
College freshman Jack Sweeney, 19, has refused a proposal of a free Tesla Model 3 in exchange for taking down a Twitter account that tracks Elon Musk’s jet
Tesla CEO Elon Musk previously asked Sweeney to take the account down in exchange for $5,000
Car-hire company CEO Scott Painter offered the Tesla Model 3 to Sweeney on Twitter on Friday
Sweeney, however, says he does not want the Tesla Model 3 that is being offered under a three-year contract as he wants his own permanent vehicle
Sweeney, who is studying information technology, created 15 Twitter bots tracking the private planes of tech billionaires including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos – but the account tracking Musk’s jet is by far the most popular, with over 354,000 followers.
Although the information Sweeney relies on is all public, his program requires sophisticated knowledge to match transponder frequencies with separately available anonymous flight plans, according to Protocol, which first reported the saga.
The popularity of the @ElonJet appears to have discomfited Musk, who contacted the teen to request that he remove the account to prevent ‘crazy people’ from tracking his movements, according to Protocol.
‘I don’t love the idea of being shot by a nutcase,’ he told Sweeney in their DM conversation.
Sweeney’s sophisticated program relies on data from multiple public sources to track flight plans that are otherwise not easily available to the public.
His system requires deep inside knowledge of the aviation system, which Sweeney gained from a father who works in the airline industry, as well as his lifelong hobby of tracking planes.
When Sweeney explained to Musk how his system works, the billionaire seemed surprised that the information was publicly accessible, commenting, ‘Air traffic control is so primitive.’
The teen, star-struck at being contacted by one of his idols, was nevertheless not easily cowed, and bantered with Musk, jokingly offering to remove the account in exchange for a Tesla Model 3.
Sweeney, who is studying information technology, created the tracker using a program that analyzes public information from several sources to identify planes
Sweeney’s sophisticated program relies on data from multiple public sources to track flight plans for Musk’s jet (above), which are otherwise not easily available to the public
After Musk asked Sweeney how much he made from the accounts, which the teen said was no more than $20 a month, Musk offered him $5,000 to remove the bot tracking his jet.
‘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 Model 3,’ responded Sweeney.
Musk said he would think about it, but so far has not paid up.
The most recent exchange of messages between the two was last Wednesday, when Sweeney said he’d prefer an internship over payment in exchange for deleting the account.
‘I understand your view, but I hope that you would see my interest because I have been developing this since I was only in high school,’ Sweeney told Musk.
‘Options other than remuneration like an internship would make taking it down a lot easier,’ he said.
Musk’s private jet was last reported landing in Austin on Thursday
Sweeney tweeted that Musk had used a ‘blocking program’ to try to prevent being tracked, adding: ‘but already found the aircraft’.
The @ElonJet account then tracked Musk’s jet flying from Los Angeles to Austin, Texas, where it landed at around 5.50pm ET on Wednesday.
At that moment, however, Musk was on a conference call with Tesla investors, with thousands listening in live from around the world.
‘We track the plane not who may or may not be onboard,’ noted Sweeney on his tracker account.