In the age of the internet and social media, where nothing remains private, sharing someone’s location in real-time is a recipe for disaster (as Meta found out yesterday). Twitter, for its part, is looking to avoid a similar lawsuit as it suspended over 25 accounts that tracked the locations of jets belonging to government agencies and private individuals using publicly available flight data.
The social media company followed the development by updating its Private Information Policy in order to put a halt to the sharing of sharing someone else’s location in real-time. It maintained that sharing someone else’s live location on Twitter resulted in an increased risk of physical harm, and the popular micro-blogging site is curbing this by removing tweets and suspending accounts that are known to share someone else’s live location.
We’ve updated our Private Information policy to prohibit sharing someone else’s live location in most cases. Here’s what changed and why. 🧵
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) December 14, 2022
Note that this is not a curb on using the Live Location feature. You are free to share your own live location on the platform, as well as share someone else’s location information from a previous day. Additionally, Twitter will permit you to share real-time location information that is related to some event or public engagement, such as a concert or a picnic.
The suspended accounts tracked the jets of multiple high-profile individuals, including Twitter CEO Elon “free speech” Musk. Twitter banned both the @ElonJet account and that of its creator, college student Jack Sweeney, and dozens of other accounts operated by him. After bringing the account back for a short while, Twitter banned it.
Sweeney’s accounts track the planes of other billionaires such as Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and Bill Gates as well. According to Sweeney, his account had been suspended for violating rules “against platform manipulations and spam.”
This is a departure from Musk’s previous statement when he had acquired Twitter for $44 billion and celebrated by firing several top executives. The billionaire declared in November that his commitment to free speech extended to the account that tracked his plane, even though he saw it as a personal safety risk (a pity that this commitment did not extend to Twitter engineers and employees who criticized Musk – they found themselves out of a job instead).
It seems that Musk’s decision to go back on his earlier statement and suspend the @ElonJet account came after his son had been mistakenly followed by a “crazy stalker,” who later blocked the car from moving and climbed onto the hood. The billionaire added that he will be taking legal action against Sweeney and the “organizations who supported harm to my family.”
Musk later tweeted that the real-time posting of someone else’s location violated doxxing policy and was a violation of physical safety – including posting links to sites with real-time location information – but “delayed posting of locations are ok.”
Any account doxxing real-time location info of anyone will be suspended, as it is a physical safety violation. This includes posting links to sites with real-time location info.
Posting locations someone traveled to on a slightly delayed basis isn’t a safety problem, so is ok.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 15, 2022