Bermuda Post

Sunday, Jun 26, 2022

The teen who tracks Elon Musk's jet agreed to stop monitoring Mark Cuban's flights on Twitter after the billionaire offered business advice

The teen who famously turned down a $5,000 offer to stop tracking Elon Musk's private jet said he stopped sharing data on Mark Cuban's travel history on Twitter after the billionaire reached out with privacy concerns.
Over the course of about four months, Cuban and Jack Sweeney, 19, went back and forth over the account @MCubansJets, which followed several of the "Shark Tank" star's planes.

The deal between the teen and billionaire sheds light on the daily privacy concerns of public figures like Cuban and the lengths they're willing to go to limit their exposure. Last year, Meta paid nearly $27 million for security efforts and private-jet travel for the Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

"Are you not concerned about safety issues with tracking jets?" Cuban asked Sweeney in a direct message over Twitter in February.

"Not everyone on this platform is stable. Many can be irrational and dangerous," Cuban said in a message to Sweeney. "You tell me what you want so that I can end this risk to my family's safety."

Cuban confirmed that the messages were genuine. He said he initially reported the account on Twitter claiming impersonation, but it was taken down only for a handful of weeks.

Sweeney said he didn't think the accounts posed a major security issue as the data is already available online via public air-traffic-tracking sites like the ADS-B Exchange. He merely puts the data on Twitter via bots that scrape the websites.

"I'm open to taking down some of the accounts, but I'm not going to do it for nothing," Sweeney said.

Over the past few months, the teen has begun tracking a wide variety of aircraft carrying stars like Tom Cruise and Taylor Swift and political and tech figures like former President Donald Trump and Zuckerberg. Sweeney said the accounts took some work to set up but that he could now put them together in about 15 minutes.

Sweeney appeared to agree to disable @MCubansJets in the spring after Cuban offered to give him support on business endeavors. The account, which has nearly 3,000 followers, has not been deleted. But it has not shared Cuban's travel data since April 7. Sweeney said he's no longer sharing the data on Twitter but still tracking the billionaire on his
Discord account.

"By ending this you have me as a friend for life," Cuban said to Sweeney in the DM exchange. "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."

Cuban gave Sweeney his email address in exchange, but the teen said he felt disappointed by the offer. He followed up with a request to meet Cuban at a Dallas Mavericks game — the team that the billionaire bought in 2000 for about $280 million — and Cuban agreed. Though, Sweeney said the date had not been set.

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

The billionaire appeared unaware that the Twitter account had stopped sharing his flight data but said he would stand by his promise and not take any further action against Sweeney if he continued to stop tracking his travel.

"That's the deal I made. I will answer his business questions," Cuban said.

Earlier this year, Sweeney asked Musk for $50,000 or a Tesla in exchange for taking down the account that tracks his jets after the billionaire said he "didn't love the idea of getting shot by a nutcase." Musk blocked Sweeney on Twitter shortly after he made the counteroffer.

Sweeney said since his efforts to track Musk catapulted him into the spotlight, the public response to his work had been mixed. He said he'd gotten threats from Musk fans, but some of the people he tracks, like the billionaire Jared Isaacman, appear unbothered by the attention.
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