With Twitter, Elon Musk has gone to war against accounts that share his position in real time. His main target: the “ElonJet” account, which lists the billionaire’s private jet flights every day as well as those of other American stars. This information bothered him so much that he offered money to the author of the account, computer scientist Jack Sweeney.
Today at the head of Twitter, Elon Musk seeks by all means to make inaccessible access to his geolocation and the history of his plane flights. In addition to suspending dozens of accounts, he went so far as to make it impossible to share certain URL links that refer to aircraft tracking tools, such as the ADS-B Exchange platform. Unlike FlightRadar24, this one lists most private jets and military aircraft.
The fight seems lost in advance. Elon Musk may block accounts, make certain URLs impossible on Twitter, his crises will only fan the fire. The general public, who was not interested in flight tracking until now, has become passionate about visiting real-time air traffic monitoring platforms. And in this regard, it is always very easy to follow the plane of Elon Musk, and to share the information on Twitter.
— COTAM Fleet & co (@CotamFleet) December 15, 2022
Tracking Elon Musk’s plane despite censorship
ADS-B Exchange may have its Twitter account suspended, but its platform is still available. It is through it that the ElonJet account was based. And it is enough to obtain the registration of an aircraft, in the specific case that of Elon Musk’s jet, to be able to continue to follow it on the platform. The ICAO code of his plane is known to everyone and all you have to do is register it on the platform to be able to continue to follow his activity. In this case, here is the reference URL on the ADS-B Exchange platform.
On FlightRadar24 and other tracking platforms, aircraft owners and operators can petition regulators not to be publicly tracked. But on ADS-B Exchange, tracking is based on Automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast, a system that regularly sends the GPS positions of a device on the ground for better air traffic control in addition to radars. It is essential to this day, and very easy to intercept its radio signals.
Fun fact, Twitter prevents publishing the link to the tracking of his plane on the ADSBExchange platform. Unless you pass even one letter of the ICAO (at the end of the URL) in capitals: https://t.co/CTYa98ykGV
— Arthur Carpentier (@Arthur_Crpt) December 16, 2022
Elon Musk knows it, and in an attempt to counter the sharing of the link to his plane on ADS-B Exchange, the man has simply blocked the way to sharing this URL. However, it is still very simple to share it: all you have to do is modify a letter of the ICAO address of the plane and put it in capital letters to continue to follow the plane from a Twitter link. Enough to let aviation aficionados and trolls flood the social network with monitoring of Elon Musk’s plane.
“Let’s be clear, the security gain for Elon Musk is minor, if any, since someone who wants to track his plane can still do so safely here.”declared Arthur Carpentier, video journalist for The worldbefore adding that “this blockage also illustrates the irrationality of what is happening”.