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Musk’s stalker now tailing Russian oligarchs

by on02 March 2022

Sweeney Todd’s flying squad

A Twitter bot created by a college student is tracking the movements of 46 jets owned or leased by more than 20 Russian oligarchs and sending updates to ADS-B Exchange, "a site that collects data from aviation enthusiasts who run their own equipment to monitor airplane movements. 

This is the second bot created by Jack Sweeney, the 19-year-old University of Central Florida student. Sweeney runs @ElonJet, which tracks the movements of Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's private jet.

Musk grew annoyed with the attention and sent Sweeney a DM on Twitter, offering him $5,000 to shut the account down. Sweeney countered by asking for a Model 3, then $50,000, then an internship.
Sweeney explained to Musk where his bot sourced its data, which is all publicly available. So far, Musk hasn't taken him up on any of the counter-offers.

Sweeney's bot is made possible by the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast system, which is required for many aircraft flying in the US and the EU.

With ADS-B, aircraft use GPS and their onboard sensors to calculate and periodically transmit their position, altitude, and velocity, and anyone with the appropriate receiver can listen for the broadcasts.

The system revolutionised air traffic control, providing accurate position and velocity data every second, far more frequently than the typical five seconds that ground-based radar offers.

It's possible that Sweeney's @RUOligarchJets bot could serve as a form of open-source intelligence in Russia's war in Ukraine. Just as investors and Musk fans use @ElonJet to hypothesize about what the billionaire is doing, oligarch jet movements may reveal real-time details about what's happening inside Russia.


Last modified on 02 March 2022
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