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Teenager Asks Elon Musk for $50,000 to Scrub Jet-Tracking Twitter

Elon Musk says he doesn't love the idea of 'being shot by a nutcase.'
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A 19-year-college student asked Elon Musk for $50,000 to stop tracking the movements of the Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc Report CEO's private jet on a Twitter account.

@ElonJet is one of 15 flight-tracking accounts Jack Sweeney created. They are run by bots he’s programmed to parse the data and tweet every time a chosen plane takes off or lands. 

Each one of them follows a famous person, most of them in the tech sector, and includes Microsoft's  (MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report Bill Gates and Amazon's  (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report Jeff Bezos.

Musk’s tracker, however, is the most popular, with nearly 83,000 followers.

'Shot by a Nutcase'

Sweeney forwarded to TheStreet a copy of the exchange he had with Musk over Twitter DM last fall, as we've previously reported.

“Can you take this down?" Musk asked. "It is a security risk."

“Yes I can but it’ll cost you a Model 3 only joking unless?” Sweeney replied. "I understand your concerns with are totally reasonable. I started the project in high school as I'm a huge admired. Never intended it to be a security concern."

"I don’t love the idea of being shot by a nutcase,” Musk said.

During the course of their communication, Sweeney, a Florida resident, told Musk that he makes no more than $20 a month on the Twitter accounts.

"Ok, how about 5k for this account and generally helping making it slightly harder for people to track me?" Musk asked.

"Any chance to up that to $50k?," Sweeney replied. "It would be great support in college and would possibly allow me to get a car maybe even a Model 3.”

The last message from Musk reads "Doesn't feel right to pay to shut this down."

Sweeney told Protocol.com he has benefited from @ElonJet and other accounts. He has gained social media followers, learned how to code and got a part-time job at UberJets as an application developer.

Musk is one of the world's richest men and one of the most recognizable. He even hosted Saturday Night Live last year. 

Musk recently tweeted that accounts that track his movements are "becoming a security issue."

'Extremely Dangerous'

Celebrities have expressed fears about being tracked. Earlier this month, People reported that Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model Brooks Nader claimed that Apple AirTag — a wireless device that can be paired with Apple's  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report Find My app feature — was slipped into her belongings in New York City.

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While she was walking home alone after a night out, she got a notification that somebody was tracking her location, and had been "for a while," she said.

Sweeney announced on Wednesday that "Elon got PIA but I've already identified it!"

PIA refers to the Privacy ICAO Address (PIA) program, which allows operators to use alternate, temporary International Civil Aviation Organization aircraft addresses that aren't tied to an operator in the Civil Aviation Registry.

 "It is extortion," one commenter said on Twitter. "I hope he does not get it. I am glad Elon Musk didn't let this kid extort 50k."

Most states define extortion as the gaining of property or money by almost any kind of force or threat of violence, property damage, harm to reputation, or unfavorable government action, according to the website FindLaw

Some people commenting on @ElonJet raised concerns about Musk's privacy.

"If he filled for the PIA program and you still went out of your way to find his jet this is really sh--ty of you," one person said. "Unfollowing and disappointed."

"I think what you're doing is extremely dangerous," one commenter said.

"I'm not a fan of @elonmusk," another said, "but I don't think it's right to help people track his location for whatever f--ked up reasons they have."

But one person noted that "obviously @elonmusk isn’t that worried about his privacy or security if all he’s offered $5K to take it down."

"Ignore these Elon musk fan boy babies on here," another said. "Keep doing what you do! These people don’t think Elon is using technology to control their lives? If not they need to wake up."

And another supporter declared "This is awesome!"

"The oligarch class seems to think they can stalk us with their algorithms, do whatever is destructive to society to further benefit them and do it all in this anonymous bubble," the commenter said. "Burst their bubble! Maybe they’ll act like humans. Doubt it."

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

For his part, Sweeney said that he did not see the Twitter account as a threat to Musk.

"He has a security team," he said.