Jack Sweeney

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Jack Sweeney
Bornc. 2002 (age 21–22)
EducationUniversity of Central Florida
Occupation(s)Programmer, entrepreneur
Years active2020–present
Websitejackstech.net

Jack Sweeney (born c. 2002) is an American programmer and entrepreneur. In 2022, he became known for creating Twitter bots to track the private jets of Russian oligarchs and other prominent individuals, including Elon Musk through the ElonJet account, and Taylor Swift.

Life[edit]

Sweeney's father, a Technical Operations Controller for American Airlines, introduced him to aviation when he was young. Sweeney would use the data to track his father coming home when he commuted from Dallas back to Florida.[1]

In the beginning of 2022, Sweeney was a freshman at the University of Central Florida,[2] and was studying information technology. He intends to work in software engineering.[3] In February 2022, Sweeney stated in an interview with Bloomberg Wealth that he was establishing a company called "Ground Control" that monitors flight activity of prominent billionaires.[4]

Creation of flight monitoring tools[edit]

As a teenager, he developed Twitter bots[5] to track and share the locations of the private jets of several individuals including Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Donald Trump,[2] and Drake.[6] His program uses public data sources including the Federal Aviation Administration, OpenSky Network, and Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast.[2][7] In June 2020, he created the "Elon Musk's Jet" Twitter account, dedicated to tracking Musk's private jet by using bots that scrape publicly available air traffic data.[8]

During the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sweeney began tweeting the location of approximately 30 private jets belonging to Russian oligarchs.[3][9] In a March 2022 interview with CBS MoneyWatch, Sweeney stated his desire to see their planes seized.[3] Some oligarchs being tracked include Vladimir Putin, Len Blavatnik, Roman Abramovich,[3] Alexander Abramov,[6] Dmitry Rybolovlev, Arkady Rotenberg, Eugene Shvidler, Vladimir Potanin, Vagit Alekperov, Oleg Deripaska, Mikhail Prokhorov, Alisher Usmanov, Viktor Vekselberg, Leonid Mikhelson, Viktor Medvedchuk, Vladimir Lisin, Suleyman Kerimov, Oleg Tinkov, Yuri Linnik, Yevgeny Prigozhin, Dmitry Mazepin, and Alexei Mordashov.[10]

In April 2022, Sweeney stopped tracking Mark Cuban's travel in exchange for his friendship and business advice.[11]

In May 2023 Sweeney began tracking the flights of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis after DeSantis signed a bill into law redacting details of his trips he made as Governor.[12]

Legal threats from Elon Musk[edit]

In November 2021, Musk cited security concerns and requested that Sweeney stop tracking his private Gulfstream jet in exchange for $5,000.[13] Sweeney responded that he might stop tracking Musk's private jet in exchange for an internship, US$50,000, or a Tesla Model 3.[7][13] In November 2022, after Musk bought Twitter, Musk said, "My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk".[14] On December 14, 2022, Twitter suspended Sweeney's airplane-tracking accounts for Musk, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and Russian oligarchs, as well as Sweeney's personal Twitter account.[14] Sweeney reacted to the suspension, stating: "I mean, this looks horrible. He literally said he was keeping my account up for free speech".[15] On December 15, a number of high-profile journalists were banned after covering Twitter's removal of the ElonJet account.[16][17]

Musk announced that he would be taking legal action against Sweeney.[14][18] In relation to the legal action, Musk alleged that in Los Angeles, a car carrying his 2-year-old son was followed by a "crazy stalker" who thought Musk was inside, "blocked [the] car from moving" and "climbed onto [the] hood."[19] A Los Angeles Police detective in the stalking investigations unit said they had no evidence indicating that the alleged stalker had used ElonJet.[20] Regarding the incident, South Pasadena police said that they were investigating "an assault with a deadly weapon involving a vehicle", and labelled a member of Musk's security team as a "suspect".[21]

Sweeney has posted publicly available information about Musk's flights and airports used, but Sweeney did not share information about Musk's cars or family members.[15] Sweeney denied being involved in the alleged stalking incident, stating that the ElonJet account had no posts in the 24 hours prior to the incident, and that the location of the alleged stalking incident was far from any airport; Sweeney also told the media that he believed Musk's legal threat against him was a bluff.[22]

Legal threats from Taylor Swift[edit]

In December 2023, lawyers for Taylor Swift sent a cease and desist letter to Sweeney regarding the tracking of her private jet. Swift's lawyers stated that Sweeney's tracking presents a safety concern for Swift, however, the data remains available on the FAA's database of flight data. The @TaylorSwiftJets Instagram account recently shared a post estimating the carbon footprint left by Swift's travel tied to her Eras Tour, after which the account was suspended by the platform. Sweeney stated that he received the letter after media outlets began scrutinizing Swift's carbon footprint.[23][24]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Florida college student tracking Elon Musk's jet doesn't plan to stop". Tampa Bay Times.
  2. ^ a b c Dodds, Io (February 13, 2022). "Teenager who tracks Elon Musk's jet says he might stop in exchange for a new Tesla". The Independent. Archived from the original on March 5, 2022. Retrieved March 4, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d Picchi, Aimee (March 3, 2022). "Meet the American teen tracking Russian oligarchs' jets". CBS News. Archived from the original on March 5, 2022. Retrieved March 5, 2022.
  4. ^ Taylor, Amiah (February 1, 2022). "The teen who tracked Elon Musk's jet is now starting a business to monitor the flights of other billionaires". Fortune. Archived from the original on March 5, 2022. Retrieved March 5, 2022.
  5. ^ Abbany, Zulfikar, ed. (March 1, 2022). "How a teenager's Twitter tracks Russian oligarchs". Deutsche Welle. Archived from the original on March 8, 2022. Retrieved March 8, 2022.
  6. ^ a b Yang, Maya (March 1, 2022). "Teen who tracked Elon Musk's jet turns his attention to Russian oligarchs". the Guardian. Archived from the original on March 5, 2022. Retrieved March 5, 2022.
  7. ^ a b Irwin, Veronica (January 26, 2022). "Elon Musk offered a college freshman $5k to delete a Twitter account". Protocol. Archived from the original on March 5, 2022. Retrieved March 5, 2022.
  8. ^ Duffy, Kate (April 14, 2022). "'Oh no.' The teen behind the popular Twitter account that tracks Elon Musk's private jet reacts to the billionaire's proposal to buy the company". Business Insider. Retrieved April 15, 2022.
  9. ^ Valinsky, Jordan (March 3, 2022). "The teenager who tracked Elon Musk's jet is now tracking Russian oligarchs". CNN. Archived from the original on March 5, 2022. Retrieved March 5, 2022.
  10. ^ Marr, Madeleine (March 4, 2022). "He was tracking Elon Musk's jet. Now this Florida teen has moved on to Vladimir Putin". Miami Herald. Retrieved March 4, 2022.
  11. ^ Sauer, Megan (August 2, 2022). "The jet-tracking teen stopped tweeting Mark Cuban's flights for free, but refused $5,000 from Elon Musk for the same thing". CNBC. Retrieved October 15, 2022.
  12. ^ Tabahriti, Sam. "The college student who tracks Elon Musk's private jet on Twitter is now monitoring the jet used by Ron DeSantis". Business Insider. Retrieved May 22, 2023.
  13. ^ a b Maruf, Ramishah (January 30, 2022). "Elon Musk offered a Florida teen $5,000 to delete a Twitter account tracking his jet. It wasn't enough". CNN Business. Archived from the original on March 5, 2022. Retrieved March 5, 2022.
  14. ^ a b c O'Brien, Matt (December 15, 2022). "Twitter changes rules over account tracking Elon Musk's jet". Associated Press. Retrieved December 15, 2022.
  15. ^ a b Harwell, Drew (December 14, 2022). "Musk bans Twitter account tracking his jet, threatens to sue creator". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 14, 2022.
  16. ^ Dang, Sheila (December 16, 2022). "Elon Musk's Twitter suspension of journalists draws global backlash". Financial Post. Retrieved December 16, 2022.
  17. ^ Reimann, Nicholas; Hart, Robert (December 16, 2022). "Twitter Suspends Accounts For Rival Mastodon And Several High-Profile Journalists". Forbes. Retrieved December 16, 2022.
  18. ^ Halpert, Madeline; Maloney, Marita (December 14, 2022). "Elon Musk taking legal action over Twitter account that tracks his private jet". BBC. Retrieved December 15, 2022.
  19. ^ Serrano, Jody (December 15, 2022). "Elon Musk Is Taking Legal Action Against Student Who Tracks His Private Jet". Gizmodo. Retrieved December 15, 2022.
  20. ^ Harwell, Drew; Lorenz, Taylor (December 18, 2022). "Elon Musk blamed a Twitter account for a stalker. Police see no link". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on December 19, 2022.
  21. ^ Ingram, David; Blankstein, Andrew (December 21, 2022). "California police say member of Elon Musk's security team is a suspect following stalker claim". NBC News. Retrieved December 21, 2022.
  22. ^ Charalambous, Peter (December 18, 2022). "Student tracking Elon Musk's jet defends his program, considers legal threat a bluff". ABC News. Retrieved December 18, 2022.
  23. ^ Blistein, Jon (February 6, 2024). "Taylor Swift's Lawyers Threaten Private Jet Flight Tracker Over 'Stalking and Harassing Behavior'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 6, 2024.
  24. ^ "Taylor Swift threatens to sue student who tracks her private jet". BBC News. February 7, 2024. Retrieved February 7, 2024.

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