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Elon Musk offers $5,000 to a teen to stop tracking his flights

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‘I’ve put a lot of work into it, and $5k is just really not enough.’

“Can you take this down? It is a security risk.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk offered $5,000 to a 19-year-old to shut down a Twitter tracking bot that tracks his private flights, the teenager told Protocol.

Jack Sweeney runs 15 flight-tracking accounts using a bot he created that automatically posts when a celebrity’s flight leaves or lands at an airport, The Hill reports

It was a late-night communication that arrived at 12:13 a.m. Sweeney’s time had come, but the college student seemed unfazed. Nearly seven hours later, he responded:

“Yes I can but it’ll cost you a Model 3 only joking unless?”

@ElonJet is one of 15 flight-tracking accounts Sweeney has set up, all of which are controlled by bots he’s coded to read data and tweet whenever a specific jet takes off or lands. Each one follows a high-profile figure, practically all of them are in technology, such as Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. Musk’s tracker, on the other hand, has roughly 83,000 followers.

The account’s popularity appears to have scared Musk.

“I don’t love the idea of being shot by a nutcase,” he told Sweeney in their DM conversation.

For a few more messages, the conversation proceeded. Musk inquired about Sweeney’s earnings from the Twitter accounts, which Sweeney stated were no more than $20 per month.

Then Elon Musk offered his own offer: $5,000 to erase the account and deter “crazy people” from tracking the billionaire’s location. Sweeney instructed Musk to include another 0. “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.”

Musk stated that he would think about it. But he hasn’t paid Sweeney anything yet, and the account is still open. Sweeney claims he’s fine with being ghosted. He’s gotten a lot out of @ElonJet and the other accounts, he says: he’s garnered social media followers, learned how to code, and even landed a part-time job as an application developer at UberJets. Even better, the self-described Elon Musk “fan” got to speak with a man he’s admired for years.

Though the Twitter accounts haven’t resulted in any dangerous situations thus far, Musk does have a point, at least according to Sweeney’s understanding and material available online. Celebrities being ambushed at airports — by fans, individuals looking to sell their autographs, photographers, stalkers, and the like — is undoubtedly a thing. In recent years, Musk and other tech CEOs have become celebrities in their own right.

Meanwhile, Protocol contacted SpaceX’s media team to inquire about any violent events or threats — one of the only remaining methods for the press to contact Musk since he disbanded Tesla’s public relations team last year — but received no answer.

Elon Musk’s Net Worth Is Still $240 Billion

Musk made a concerning statement. If he believes that the reason air traffic management is primitive is because they publicly disclose all civilian air traffic data, rather than treating private planes differently than everyone else, this could be interpreted as anti-democratic. Other institutions frequently employ multiple standards, depending on the financial status of their constituents (some sorely needed, like welfare).

However, the more public institutions, services, and agencies collaborate and bend to billionaires’ whim, the more stratified society may become.

Musk, on the other hand, isn’t wholly wrong regarding “security issues,” as he tweeted earlier this month. According to Forbes, Musk is one of the world’s most recognized tech CEOs, with a personal net worth of more than $240 billion (as of Thursday).

With one of the largest sums of money at his disposal, Musk may find that other options are more effective. Instead of paying off everybody who dares to access public data and broadcast it on Twitter, Musk might buy many private jets and fly them all at the same time, so no one knows which one he’s on. Of course, this assumes his whereabouts isn’t also publicly tracked.

However, there are people in the world who may take advantage of bad views toward an enormously wealthy CEO and attempt mischief. Having several private jets flying to different places reduces the possibility that anyone will know which one he is on.

And it may sidestep the sticky problem of elevating the location of some more financially affluent passengers above the rest of us. However, this is only a suggestion.

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