A 19-year-old Florida university student and aviation enthusiast says he rejected a $5,000 offer from Elon Musk to shut down @ElonJet, a Twitter bot he designed that tracks the comings and goings of the Tesla and SpaceX CEO’s private jet.
In an interview Monday, Jack Sweeney, a University of Central Florida freshman, reported that Musk blocked him after he declined the buyout offer — but not before the two had a month-and-a-half-long dialogue.
Musk did not immediately respond to a request for comment made through Tesla.
He first reached out to Sweeney on Nov. 30, according to screenshots of Twitter messages reviewed by NBC News, and Musk asked him for details about how the bot worked, remarked that air traffic control is “primitive” and said, “I don’t love the idea of being shot by a nutcase.”
Sweeney later asked Musk to “up” his $5,000 offer to $50,000, about the cost of a Tesla Model 3, which Musk considered for over a month, before Sweeney said he would also consider removing the account for an internship.
Then, some time after Jan. 23, Musk blocked him.
Sweeney said he has been interested in aviation and “everything Elon Musk and Tesla” for years before Musk reached out to him.
“He just ends up messaging me one night at, like, 1 a.m.,” Sweeney said, adding that Musk first said the bot was a security risk but provided no evidence.
Sweeney said he believed Musk “a little bit” about the security risk but that he felt that because he has a security team, any concern was “just worry.”
Sweeney noted that private planes have built-in technology that enables them to be tracked but acknowledged that there should be “changes to how the whole system works,” which probably isn’t possible.
“It would be like making a change to everybody’s phone that they’re using every day,” Sweeney said. “It’s not like you could just easily change the system.”
Sweeney said he told Musk about another aviation tracking blocking program, which Sweeney said Musk used last week.
“He might have thought that would have worked and he could just, like, ignore me,” Sweeney said of the blocker. “It doesn’t really make that much of a difference.”
Sweeney said he has no plans to take down @ElonJet. As of Monday, the most recent flight tracked said the jet landed near Brownsville, Texas, on Sunday evening.
Tim Fitzsimons is a reporter for NBC News. he/him