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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Elon Musk offers teen $5,000 to stop tracking his private jet

Being rich and famous comes with a few unexpected downsides. For Elon Musk, the co-founder and CEO of Tesla, one of the drawbacks of fame is having to offer a 19-year-old college freshman $5,000 to stop tracking the movements of his private jet on social media sites.

University of Central Florida student Jack Sweeney started tracking Musk’s jet — which, by the way, is not electric or emissions-free — in June 2020. Several apps allow just anyone with an internet connection to track commercial flights, but private jet owners and operators normally try to fly under the radar (sorry, not sorry). Sweeney got around this by obtaining public data from the Federal Aviation Administration, according to USA Today, and he created a bot linked to a Twitter account named ElonJet that posts updates every time the plane takes off and lands.

The account has amassed 124,100 followers as of writing, and it ended up catching Musk’s attention. He reached out to Sweeney and asked him to delete it. “Can you take this down? It’s a security risk,” he wrote, adding that “I don’t love the idea of being shot by a nutcase” and that he worries about “crazy people” tracking his every move. Sweeney answered that he’s willing to shut down the account in exchange for a Model 3, which carries a base price of $44,990. Musk made a counter-offer: $5,000. Sweeney replied to the billionaire asking for $50,000.

Musk considered it, according to Protocol, but he ultimately decided that it “doesn’t feel right to pay to shut this down.” Sweeney said that he has received Bitcoin offers from folks who want him to keep the account open, surprisingly, but he ultimately made Musk a different offer and asked for an internship. There’s no word yet on whether he’ll get it, which company he’d end up in, or what he’d be doing.

Until then, ElonJet remains active. Musk’s plane landed in Austin, Texas, on January 26 after flying around Hawaii for a few days.

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