Taylor Swift joins Elon Musk in trying to silence student who tracks celebrity jets

Taylor Swift’s attorneys have threatened legal action against Jack Sweeney, a college student who has attracted the ire of celebrities and billionaires over his social media accounts that share publicly available information about private jet landings and takeoffs.

An attorney for Swift sent a cease-and-desist letter to Sweeney, a University of Central Florida junior, in December, according to The Washington Post. The letter, which Sweeney shared with the Post, says that his social media accounts cause “direct and irreparable harm, as well as emotional and physical distress.” It says that unless Sweeney stops the “stalking and harassing behavior,” the artist would “have no choice but to pursue any and all legal remedies.” 

“I think it’s important to note that no where do I intend for harm. I actually think Swift has some good songs. I believe in transparency and public information,” Sweeney wrote in an email to The Verge.

“I think it’s important to note that no where do I intend for harm. I actually think Swift has some good songs.”

The accounts share information that’s already publicly available through the Federal Aviation Administration and signals that private jets broadcast, which Sweeney has made easier to access by posting on social media.

Along with data on private jet landing and takeoff patterns, Sweeney also posts estimates of the associated fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions of the flights. “Flight shame” really took off in 2018 after an environmental campaign in Sweden urged people to find less polluting ways to travel. Swedish activist Greta Thunberg then made waves for taking a two week by sea journey to attend a climate conference in New York the following year.

A report in 2022 on celebrities with the biggest carbon footprints from flying placed Swift at the top of the list. “Taylor’s jet is loaned out regularly to other individuals. To attribute most or all of these trips to her is blatantly incorrect,” Swift’s representatives responded at the time.

“The statements by her team directly contradict each other,” Sweeney says in his email to The Verge, referencing the 2022 statement and the recent letter sent to him. “This event is eerily similar to December 2022 when Musk tweeted he would take legal action against me.”

Sweeney migrated from Twitter to Threads after Elon Musk banned him from the platform and accused the student of posting “assassination coordinates.” In late 2022, Sweeney returned to X with an account that shares data on Musk’s private jet but with a 24-hour delay. He runs multiple accounts across Threads, Instagram, Facebook, Bluesky, and other social media platforms dedicated to Musk and other public figures’ flight data.

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