Elon Musk’s tenure as the sole proprietor of Twitter has been a disaster, as it turns out a multinational company acting on the whims of a fragile ego tends to result in chaos.
The most recent example of that came on Wednesday, when an account that tracks Musk’s jet was suddenly suspended, followed by the teen that runs the account, and eventually all of the flight tracking accounts on Twitter. Musk, who once offered $5,000 to the owner of @ElonJet to turn the account off, had Twitter update the rules to disallow sharing live location data.
Update, Twitter has changed their policy on open source flight tracking-https://t.co/gHZIiCWnx4
“Under this policy, you can’t share the following types of private information, without the permission of the person who it belongs to:” pic.twitter.com/JPGdd3ZgUl
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) December 14, 2022
While the main goal was clearly to get rid of the accounts that track his jet and other famous people live — which all use publicly available flight data — there could be some consequences that go well beyond the intended goal because the rule was written so vaguely. (Note: @ElonJet returned on Wednesday night, promising to follow the new terms of service but others remained suspended)
For a long time, college football fans have looked to flight tracking data to find out what coaches might be coming to town when a program has a vacancy, as finding a private jet going to a small college town is usually a pretty good indicator something is up. Golf writers and fans will regularly monitor Tiger Woods’ jet to see if he might be planning on playing in an upcoming tournament by flying to get a secret practice round in. Even beyond flight tracking, breaking news reporters across the sports landscape will report on players, agents, and front office personnel having meetings in various locations, all of which could be violations of Twitter’s newest regulation, should they want to enforce it.
While Twitter doesn’t seem likely to want to suspend every account that does this and the company was obviously targeting these flight tracking accounts, it opens up a lot of gray area that folks will have to be at least a little concerned about when trying to report on meetings and talks taking place.
I will say it would be an all-timer on Twitter if one of the big newsbreakers like Shams or Woj ended up suspended for firing off a tweet about a player being en route to a meeting in the Hamptons or something.