February 3, 2023

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Twitter bans @ElonJet after Musk vowed not to ban it

@ElonJet, the account tracking the movements of Elon Musk’s private jet has been suspended from Twitter. Musk said in November that the account posed a “direct personal security risk” but that he would not ban it as part of his “commitment to free speech.”

It’s not clear what has changed in the month since this tweet. Posts by @ElonJet are also published on Instagram and Facebook and also do not show that the account has done anything extraordinary in the last few days. The account’s most recent posts were yesterday, showing Musk’s jet landing in Los Angeles after a 48-minute flight.

The ban comes less than a week after account creator Jack Sweeney claimed the jet tracker was tacitly restricted from Twitter. Sweeney posted a screenshot of an alleged message from Twitter’s internal Slack showing Ella Irwin, the company’s trust and security lead, urging her team to “apply strong VF [visibility filtering]’ to the account ‘immediately’. Sweeney linked to tweets suggesting the restrictions made @ElonJet harder to find in searches or suggestions for a period before later being reversed.

The Verge could not confirm the screenshot’s accuracy, and Irwin declined to comment when reached earlier this week.

Sweeney wrote on twitter the account appears to have been suspended. He did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Musk had previously reached out to Sweeney and offered to pay for the account over concerns it was a “security risk,” Sweeney previously told the New York Times.

The suspension appears to run counter to Musk’s stated ideals on how to moderate Twitter. For months he has talked about the importance of allowing “free speech” on the platform and creating transparency in moderation decisions. In this case, it is not yet clear why @ElonJet was banned.

With additional reporting by Alex Heath.