The whereabouts of Elon Musk’s private jet are based on public data — that Musk banned from Twitter this week.
Flight data for aircraft from Musk’s shiny multimillion-dollar Gulfstream G650 jet to commercial planes has long been public. Now Musk, who acquired Twitter for $44 billion in late October, is asserting that disclosing the location of his jet amounts to doxing, a form of online harassment that involves the sharing of personal information in a way that could spur harm.
“Same doxing rules apply to ‘journalists’ as to everyone else,” he said in a tweet on Thursday. “They posted my exact real-time location, basically assassination coordinates.” The Washington Post saw no evidence that the reporters did what he claimed.
The internet has made vast amounts of data public, from property records to family ties, as well as phones that post people’s locations in real time. Sometimes, the data empowers scammers and criminals. But there are limits to the value of the data — it can be outdated or false. And in the case of publicly available flight information, it reveals the location of the aircraft, not its passengers.
While Twitter has abruptly changed its rules to prevent accounts from sharing live location details, it cannot stop the torrent of aviation hobbyists who track jets and post information elsewhere.
Musk and Twitter did not immediately return a request for comment.
Here is an overview of what’s going on with tracking Musk’s personal jet and how people follow it.