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Teen private jet tracker who irked Elon Musk stops reporting on Mark Cuban after ‘friend for life’ offer

‘You tell me what you want so that I can end this risk to my family’s safety’

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Friday 17 June 2022 16:56 BST
Related video: How Does Mark Cuban Make His Money?

The teenager who rejected an offer of $5,000 from Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk to stop tracking his private jets has now agreed to cease sharing information on the travel history of another billionaire – Mark Cuban.

Mr Cuban reached out to 19-year-old Jack Sweeney with privacy concerns about the latter’s automated Twitter account @MCubansJets via direct message four months ago, Insider reported this week.

The bot account last posted flight information from Mr Cuban’s planes on 7 April and its bio now states that it has been “disabled”. Mr Sweeney told Insider that he’s still tracking Mr Cuban on his Discord account.

Direct messages on Twitter between Mr Cuban and Mr Sweeney were shared with Insider, with the billionaire confirming their authenticity.

“Are you not concerned about safety issues with tracking jets?” Mr Cuban asked in February. “Not everyone on this platform is stable. Many can be irrational and dangerous.”

“You tell me what you want so that I can end this risk to my family’s safety,” he added.

Mr Cuban told Insider that he reported the account to Twitter for impersonation but the account was only taken out of action for a few weeks.

Mr Sweeney told the outlet he didn’t believe that his automated accounts were a security threat because the information is already publically available on websites tracking air traffic. His bots take that information and post it on Twitter.

“I’m open to taking down some of the accounts, but I’m not going to do it for nothing,” Mr Sweeney said.

Mr Sweeney has been tracking the private jets of several celebrities over the last several months, including those of Tom Cruise and Taylor Swift, and prominent people from the fields of politics and technology, such as former president Donald Trump and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook’s parent company Meta paid almost $27m last year for security measures and private jet flights for Mr Zuckerberg.

The teenager said the Twitter bots took a while to establish but that he can now have one up and running in around a quarter of an hour.

“By ending this you have me as a friend for life,” Mr Cuban told Mr Sweeney. “You probably have Elon as a friend for life and I’m guessing that is far more valuable to you than the value of a Tesla. Some day you may start a business and you would have my help.”

Mr Cuban provided Mr Sweeney with his email address, but the teenager told Insider that he was disappointed in the exchange. He asked the Dallas Mavericks owner to see him at a future NBA game, to which Mr Cuban said “sure. Next Season”.

“He said a lot of stuff to try and get me to take it down, but he didn’t really put in the effort,” Mr Sweeney said.

Mr Cuban told Insider that he wouldn’t take any measures against Mr Sweeney if the tracking account remains disabled.

“That’s the deal I made. I will answer his business questions,” Mr Cuban said.

Mr Sweeney previously made headlines for refusing a similar request from Mr Musk to stop tracking his jets.

The teen asked Mr Musk for $50,000 or a Tesla earlier this year to take down the account tracking his private jets. Mr Musk had said that he “didn’t love the idea of getting shot by a nutcase”. Mr Musk blocked Mr Sweeney on Twitter following the teenager’s request.

Mr Sweeney said he’s been threatened by fans of Mr Musk, while others, such as billionaire Jared Isaacman, don’t appear to be concerned about the automated accounts tracking their air travel.

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