Sarah RumpfFeb 9th, 2024, 4:38 pm

Elon Musk looking at phone

AP Photo/John Raoux, File

Of course there was Florida Man at fault.

A new book by Bloomberg reporter Kurt Wagner titled Battle for the Bird covers the evolution of The Platform Formerly Known as Twitter as it moved from a publicly traded company launched by co-founder Jack Dorsey to a privately-held enterprise owned by Elon Musk.

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Bloomberg published an excerpt from the book, due out Feb. 20, and among the various anecdotes about Musk’s struggles to retain “anxious” advertisers and other tales of his tumultuous tenure is what very well may be the Chief Twit’s villain origin story.

According to Wagner, in January 2022, Musk contacted then-CEO Parag Agrawal to complain about @ElonJet, a Twitter account run by Jack Sweeney, a college student at the University of Central Florida. Sweeney’s account used publicly available data to report on the location of Musk’s private jet, much to the annoyance of the world’s richest man.

Sweeney runs multiple accounts that track the private jet travel of prominent figures, including former President Donald Trump, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos — and even Taylor Swift, who recently threatened the college student with legal action for his reports on her flights.

Musk “unsuccessfully petitioned Agrawal to remove a Twitter account that was tracking his private plane,” wrote Wagner. “[T]he billionaire started buying Twitter shares shortly after Agrawal denied his request.”

Musk’s accumulation of Twitter stock led to ongoing conversations with Dorsey, and Musk seeking a spot on the company’s board of directors. When that was thwarted — along with his request to nuke @ElonJet and other suggestions he made — Musk then began pursuing purchasing Twitter outright, with Dorsey’s encouragement.

Hostilities increased after Musk completed his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter in October 2022. He quickly ousted Agrawal along with a majority of the company’s executives and employees. And despite his boasts of making Twitter a free speech haven, Musk suspended the @ElonJet account — along with several journalists who were sharing or reporting on @ElonJet’s tracking info — and threatened legal action, eventually relenting after Sweeney switched to posting info after a 24-hour delay (Sweeney does still post travel data about Musk’s jet on other social media platforms).

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Sarah Rumpf joined Mediaite in 2020 and is a Contributing Editor focusing on politics, law, and the media.

A native Floridian, Sarah attended the University of Florida, graduating with a double major in Political Science and German, and earned her Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the UF College of Law.

Sarah’s writing has been featured at National Review, The Daily Beast, Reason, Law & Crime, Independent Journal Review, Texas Monthly, The Capitolist, Breitbart Texas, Townhall, RedState, The Orlando Sentinel, and the Austin-American Statesman, and her political commentary has led to appearances on the BBC, MSNBC, NewsNation, Fox 35 Orlando, Fox 7 Austin, The Young Turks, The Dean Obeidallah Show, and other television, radio, and podcast programs across the globe.

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