Teenager who tracks jet owned by Elon Musk starts following Mark Zuckerberg's new plane

midian182

Posts: 7,915   +82
Staff member
In brief: You might be familiar with the name Jack Sweeney. He's the teenage programmer who became well-known for creating a Twitter account that tracks Elon Musk's private jet. Now, he has rediscovered another billionaire's aircraft: Mark Zuckerberg's.

Back in February, 19-year-old Sweeney started the Zucc Jet account that tracked and shared updates on the Gulfstream Jet believed to be used by Zuckerberg. But an April post confirmed that the jet, which has the registration N528AP, is no longer used by the Meta chief.

In a new post, Sweeney has confirmed he's found Zuckerberg's new jet by drawing a correlation between the aircraft's travel history and Zuckerberg's trips.

In April, Meta's regulatory filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revealed that the company spent $27 million protecting Zuckerberg and his family last year. That amount included $1.6 million for the use of a private aircraft for personal travel. The filing also revealed that Meta started paying for Zuckerberg's personal travel on an aircraft owned by him and operated by a charter company in March this year.

Sweeney gained plenty of attention when he started a Twitter account that tracked Elon Musk's private jet. The Tesla boss offered Sweeney $5,000 to close the account as Musk didn't "love the idea of being shot by a nutcase." Sweeney said he'd remove it for $50,000, but the world's richest person never got back to him after saying he'd think about the offer.

Sweeney has accounts that track Mark Cuban, Bill Gates, celebrities, and more. He also follows the yachts and private jets of Russian Oligarchs, as well as one that tracks flights on planes registered to President Vladimir Putin and Russian VIPs. The programmer previously said he uses bots to scrape the publicly available air traffic data.

Some Twitter users have noted the potential security dangers of tracking billionaires' planes, but others have praised Sweeney for creating the accounts.

A report by The European Federation for Transport and Environment revealed that just 1% of people are responsible for 50% of global aviation emissions.

Masthead image credit: Chris Leipelt

Permalink to story.

 

hahahanoobs

Posts: 4,466   +2,438
"Some Twitter users have noted the potential security dangers of tracking billionaires' planes..."

That would be the peanut gallery.
 

dangh

Posts: 583   +922
I really have a lot of antypathy for Mark, but he is a private person and this behaviour really pushes boundry of his privacy. I could understand tracking wherebouts of a public / government officials because they flying for tax payers money and people should know how those are spend. But he is flying his plane paying his money and there is absolutely no public concern on what the hell he is doing with his time.
In EU this should be classified as breaking GDPR and addressed accordingly.
 

Burty117

Posts: 4,488   +2,694
In EU this should be classified as breaking GDPR and addressed accordingly.
Would it be though? it's public information that this guy is using and then linking to individuals based on public information.

If I travelled from the UK to Germany every month and just before I left and when I arrived, announced it via social media, you could feasibly track the planes I used. Billionaires are easier because they're using private jets is all.
 

brucek

Posts: 1,131   +1,672
This should absolutely be illegal.
I'd be interested to hear if Mark Zuckerberg shares the same opinion. If he were to state so publicly, I'd very much like to know how he reconciles that opinion with Facebook's practices and participation re: location data. While Facebook may not directly publish the location history of any user's phone to any member of the public, it sounds like they do make it available to data brokers and advertisers, with sufficient detail so that interested parties are able to easily reverse any claimed anonymization efforts.

I do see some important differences between phone location and plane location:

1. Plane location being publicly trackable is a FAA regulatory decision, and not something Jack Sweeney could accomplish on his own.

2. Planes are found only at airports, which are generally secured environments. Once the plane has landed, the passengers are likely to leave the airport and be somewhere else. Compare to phones, which tend to be at the exact same location as their owner much more reliably.

3. Owners of private planes who have security concerns are much likely be able to address them via say private security compared to the average phone user.
 

waclark

Posts: 352   +240
Would it be though? it's public information that this guy is using and then linking to individuals based on public information.

If I travelled from the UK to Germany every month and just before I left and when I arrived, announced it via social media, you could feasibly track the planes I used. Billionaires are easier because they're using private jets is all.

That's not really "public" info is it? I mean, you have to file a flight plan with the FAA. Since that is a government requirement, I'm not so sure it should be available to anyone and everyone who wants it. Just like your income taxes are private, even though you file with the government. No one should have access to that data that isn't authorized via their job (FAA flight controller or IRS tax agent).
 

Aceseven

Posts: 315   +398
Seems highly, HIGHLY messed up this dude is doing this.

isn't this pretty much the same thing apple is getting screamed at for because of the airtags? I get people dislike zuck but potentially endangering the man and his family is pretty f***ed up imo.

I mean if I knew alot of people hated my existence I'd be mighty angry someone else is telling the mob exactly where I am.
 

brucek

Posts: 1,131   +1,672
someone else is telling the mob exactly where I am.
No, they are the telling mob exactly what airport your plane is at, which in practical terms translates to maybe what county you are in. For high profile public personalities, you can probably estimate the same thing based on their known public engagements. For your average private citizen, you can guess they are in the same county as their home or office and be right most of the time.

Again, for serious threats re: harming or tracking someone, I'd be much more worried about the data brokers and the many companies the cell phone companies sell their location data to.
 

0dium

Posts: 314   +374
I really have a lot of antypathy for Mark, but he is a private person and this behaviour really pushes boundry of his privacy. I could understand tracking wherebouts of a public / government officials because they flying for tax payers money and people should know how those are spend. But he is flying his plane paying his money and there is absolutely no public concern on what the hell he is doing with his time.
In EU this should be classified as breaking GDPR and addressed accordingly.
Oh poor Mark and his privacy
 
D

Dd663

I don't care who it involves; there's no good, justifiable reason for publicly tracking this information, and the person responsible is reprehensible and should reconsider what he's doing with his life.
 

Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 695   +1,095
That's not really "public" info is it? I mean, you have to file a flight plan with the FAA. Since that is a government requirement, I'm not so sure it should be available to anyone and everyone who wants it. Just like your income taxes are private, even though you file with the government. No one should have access to that data that isn't authorized via their job (FAA flight controller or IRS tax agent).
This information is collected from planes that share their GPS location to those surrounding them in order to prevent crashes and more. It also allows those on the ground know when planes are overhead. Airspace is heavily regulated, and this became a requirement in 2020. This is exactly how Jake Sweeney collects this information:

ZuccBot said:
Bot Tracking Mark Zuckerberg’s Jet using @ADSBExchange data by @JxckSweeney

The FAA does have support for keeping planes' identifiers private with temporary identifiers, and Musk and Zuckerberg can do this. They have the ability to request a new identifier every 60 days at the moment:

Federal Aviation Administration said:
FAA acknowledges the desire of some operators to limit the availability of real-time ADS-B position and identification information for a specific aircraft.

To address privacy concerns, FAA has initiated the Privacy ICAO aircraft address (PIA) program to improve the privacy of eligible aircraft.

The PIA program enables interested aircraft owners to request an alternate, temporary ICAO aircraft address, which will not be assigned to the owner in the Civil Aviation Registry (CAR).

This service will be available in two phases:

Phase 1: The PIA program is now available. This service is operated, monitored and maintained by FAA.

Phase 2: The service will be transitioned to third-party service provider(s) who will operate, monitor and maintain this program, which will continue to be available from this page.

An aircraft operator will be able to request a new PIA assignment as follows:

Phase 1: Any time following a 60-calendar day period from a previous PIA assignment.

Phase 2: Any time following a 20-business day period from a previous PIA assignment.

Source: https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/technology/equipadsb/privacy/
 
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p51d007

Posts: 3,156   +2,656
Screw em! These a-hats tell us to "save the planet", go green, stop using fossil fuels, all the while living in McMansions, flying all over the world in their private jets.
 

terzaerian

Posts: 1,273   +1,772
This information is collected from planes that share their GPS location to those surrounding them in order to prevent crashes and more. It also allows those on the ground know when planes are overhead. Airspace is heavily regulated, and this became a requirement in 2020.
I always reflexively cringe when an aviation-related story shows up because I know if there is one thing people are less educated on than crypto, it's aviation. Thank you for being informative rather than reactive.

I can't say I like what he's doing but it's important that the data he's using be accessible rather than not for a lot of reasons. At some point someone politically motivated will probably start using it explicitly to harass people for political reasons and then our super-genius representatives will get into the mix and things will get really stupid. In short, we live in a society.
 

Sathi43

Posts: 34   +45
This should absolutely be illegal
This guy only seems to be making some heavily assumption based inferences based on publicly available data. Although I agree with you that it's morally and ethically wrong, making something like that illegal seems like a slippery slope we do not want to go down.
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 1,051   +778
Compared to paparazzi's and the cheap tabloids with their billion dollar media industries - this is chicken feed .
Who killed Bambi - whoops Lady Di - ignoring drunk driver, no seat belts and speeding that just leaves the Paparazzi - that aside taking pictures from roadside with 800mm lenses with extenders is ok in some countries
 

PEnnn

Posts: 774   +879
So, the same fat cats who make zillions by spying on people then selling their information to anybody who asks.... are pis$$d because..........................somebody is doing the same to them, without even making money on it!!

Now that's rich. No pun intended...

PS: And many of those same whiny people even advertise their own every movement on social media, but now they're upset their whereabouts are in the public eye!!
 

Beerfloat

Posts: 512   +976
The Second Amendment is crystal clear about this; my right to own Stinger missiles shall not be infringed. It's for self-defense.

Sadly, I'm currently held back by some people (these are not real Americans). But now that we have a sane Supreme Court I trust supply will soon be secured.