Taylor Swift’s favorite mode of transportation — the private jets she uses to regularly zip across the globe — is back in the news. Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that Swift’s attorneys threatened legal action against a college student who tracks Swift and other celebrities’ private jets on social media. They say Jack Sweeney, who runs the @celebrityjets and now-deleted @Taylorswiftjets Instagram accounts, is engaging in “stalking and harassing behavior.”
Sweeney — a University of Central Florida junior who made headlines for tracking Elon Musk’s jet in 2022 — uses the Federal Aviation Administration’s publicly accessible data to track private planes belonging to billionaires, politicians, and other public figures. Along with their takeoff and landing times, Sweeney shares an estimate of their carbon emissions. According to Fast Company, a 2023 study by the Institute for Policy Studies found that private jets emit at least ten times more pollutants per passenger compared to commercial planes, making private jets the most carbon-intensive way to travel. A 2022 analysis by sustainability-marketing agency Yard concluded that Swift was the “biggest celebrity [carbon dioxide] polluter” of the year. At the time, Swift’s publicist, Tree Paine, claimed the data was inaccurate as the jet was often loaned to other people. Business Insider recently reported that F.A.A records show that Swift recently sold one of her jets — a Dassault Falcon 900 — but appears to still have another (larger) plane.
Sweeney previously told the Post that the cease and desist from Swift’s attorneys was sent to his parents’ house in December. He claims he was told they would “have no choice but to pursue any and all legal remedies” if he continued his “stalking and harassing behavior.” The accounts, they said, caused “direct and irreparable harm, as well as emotional and physical distress” and said he exacerbated a “constant state of fear for her personal safety.” In January, Swift’s attorneys sent another letter to Sweeney, calling Sweeney’s posts “harassing conduct,” per the Post.
Sweeney’s attorneys responded to Swift’s team in a letter saying he hasn’t done anything wrong, per the New York Post. “Put simply, there is nothing unlawful about [Sweeney’s] use of publicly accessible information to track private jets, including those used by public figures like Taylor Swift,” Sweeney’s attorney, James Slater of Slater Legal PLLC, wrote responded to Swift’s team.
In 2022, a spat between Musk and Sweeney became national news when the account @Elonsjet, which had been tracking Musk’s jet, was suspended from Twitter. At the time, Musk accused Sweeney of endangering him by posting his “assassination coordinates.” Like Musk, Swift’s attorneys argue that posting publicly available flight data is a violation of privacy. “While this may be a game to you, or an avenue that you hope will earn you wealth or fame, it is a life-or-death matter for our Client,” the letter from Swift’s attorneys to Sweeney read, adding that there is “no legitimate interest in or public need for this information, other than to stalk, harass, and exert dominion and control.”
Swift has had several stalkers over the years, with one man arrested outside her New York home in January. Whether her stalkers used Sweeney’s accounts to find her is unclear. Paine told the Post: “We cannot comment on any ongoing police investigation but can confirm the timing of stalkers suggests a connection. His posts tell you exactly when and where she would be.”
Sweeney disagrees. “This information is already out there,” he told the Post. “Her team thinks they can control the world.”
This post has been updated.