Taylor Swift lobs legal threat at college student over flight-tracking data

Thousands of people will flock to Taylor Swift's six Australian concerts

Thousands of people will flock to Taylor Swift's six Australian concerts Photo: Getty

Taylor Swift can barely step a foot wrong in the eyes of fans, but criticism of her penchant for private jet travel is mounting – and she’s done trying to ‘shake it off’.

The singer threatened legal action against American college student Jack Sweeney, alleging his social media posts caused her “direct and irreparable harm, as well as emotional and physical distress”, The Washington Post reports.

Sweeney runs social media accounts focused on tracking the private jet use of public figures, including Swift, as well as the resulting carbon footprints.

His posts are based on publicly-available information from the Federal Aviation Administration and signals broadcasted by private jets, and his work has netted him a Forbes 30 under 30 nod.

But Swift’s lawyers allege Sweeney’s activities amount to “stalking and harassing”.

“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 reportedly stated.

Swift has had several run-ins with stalkers, most recently with a man who was reportedly arrested three times within five days near the singer’s New York home.

A spokesperson for Swift told The Guardian, “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.”

Celebs put on watch over trips

The cease-and-desist noted that there was “no legitimate interest in or public need” for the information Sweeney posts.

Many social media users disagree.

The use of private jets for trips that could be achieved via commercial planes or cars has come under fire recently over environmental impacts.

Swift has repeatedly been named one of the worst celebrity offenders.

In August 2022, data analyst Yard found the singer had already taken 170 private jet trips so far that year, producing 8293 tonnes of CO2 – 1184 times more than the average person’s annual emissions.

In response to the findings, a Swift representative said the singer’s jet was regularly loaned out others, so she wasn’t entirely to blame.

During just three months in 2023, Taylor Swift’s frequent flights to see her NFL-playing boyfriend Travis Kelce created 138 tonnes of emissions.

At the time, a representative for Swift said she had purchased double the carbon credits required for her international Eras tour, justifying her personal emissions.

With Swift set to continue her frequent use of private jets, and a Japanese Embassy even confirming she will have enough time to fly from her Tokyo concert to watch Kelce play in the Super Bowl, the singer is likely keen to stave off more criticism.

Swift’s unlikely ally

This isn’t the first time Sweeney has run into trouble for calling out frequent celebrity trips on private jets.

He was previously banned from X, formerly Twitter, after Elon Musk accused him of posting “assassination coordinates.” He returned to the platform in 2022 with an account that continues to Musk’s private jet travel data, with a 24-hour delay.

Elon joined Swift’s fans on Tuesday in coming to her defence when news of the cease-and-desist broke.

Around the time he received Swift’s cease-and-desist, Sweeney said Facebook and Instagram disabled his Swift-related accounts and he received a second letter claiming “harassing conduct” after he began posting updates to Celeb Jets, an account he uses to track trips by the likes of Tom Cruise, Travis Scott and John Travolta.

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