MONEY

Elon Musk offers teen $5,000 to delete Twitter account tracking his private jet location

Elon Musk reached out to a 19-year-old last fall over a Twitter direct message to ask him to stop tracking his flights, according to a report by Protocol.

Since June 2020, the Twitter handle @ElonJet has been tracking Elon Musk's private jet with a bot using public data from the Federal Aviation Administration. @ElonJet will regularly provide updates on the location of the jet, for example saying that it landed in Austin after a six-hour flight.

The account has over 90,000 followers and regularly gets several hundred likes per tweet.

Jack Sweeney, a college freshman at the University of Central Florida, runs the account. 

According to screenshots from Sweeney sent to USA TODAY, the first message Musk sent said, "Can you take this down? It is a security risk."

Sweeney explains that the project is something he's dedicated a lot of time to and never intended to create a security concern. He also jokes that he would in exchange for a Model 3 car.

Musk proceeds to ask how Sweeney is able to pull it off and how much it would cost him to get rid of the account. 

Sweeney and Musk exchanged messages back and forth, with Musk offering $5,000 and Sweeney countering with $50,000 to help pay for school and a car.

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Musk is on track to become the world's first trillionaire due to his successful rocketry business SpaceX and the value it may provide from Starlink satellites. Musk's personal wealth shot up by $10.6 billion in October 2021 after a secondary share sale by investors that valued SpaceX over $100 billion, according to CNBC

Since January 2021, Musk has dethroned Jeff Bezos as the wealthiest man in the world.

However, Musk said in his messages to Sweeney that it "Doesn't feel right to pay to shut this down" and encouraged Sweeney to accept offers of Bitcoin he's received from others to keep the account open instead.

When USA TODAY asked Sweeney how he felt about Musk reaching out to him, he said, "Cool, but kinda scary at first."

Michelle Shen is a Money & Tech Digital Reporter for USA TODAY. You can reach her @michelle_shen10 on Twitter.