Gilbert Flores for Billboard
Taylor Swift’s lawyers are threatening to sue a Florida college student who runs social media accounts that track celebrity private jets, calling it “stalking and harassing behavior.”
According to a report Tuesday (Feb. 6) by the Washington Post, Jack Sweeney received a cease-and-desist letter from Swift’s attorneys in December, warning they would have “have no choice but to pursue any and all legal remedies” if he did not stop posting the locations of Swift’s private jet.
Sweeney runs social media accounts that track flights by celebrities and other public figures, ranging from Kim Kardashian to Bill Gates to Donald Trump. In 2022, he was banned from X (formerly Twitter) after he posted such info for billionaire Elon Musk, the site’s owner. He cites publicly-available government flight data, alongside estimates of carbon emissions from each flight.
In the legal letter, Swift’s lawyers (led by Katie Wright Morrone of the firm Venable LLP) warned Sweeney that his posts posed an “imminent threat” to Swift’s “safety and wellbeing.” The letter said Sweeney’s posts were “in violation of several state laws,” but did not specify which ones.
“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,” Morrone wrote, according to the Post. “Ms. Swift has dealt with stalkers and other individuals who wish her harm.”
The letter also referenced the earlier dispute with Musk, including Sweeney’s offer to delete the account for $50,000: “We are aware of your public disputes with other high-profile individuals and your tactics in those interactions, including offering to stop your harmful behavior only in exchange for items of value.”
News of the dispute with Sweeney comes just weeks after a man named David Crowe was arrested outside Swift’s Manhattan home and charged with stalking; prosecutors say Crowe was spotted more than 30 times outside her apartment and had repeatedly attempted to enter the building. In 2022, another man was arrested after he crashed his car into her building and attempted to get inside.
In a statement Tuesday on the letter to Sweeney, Swift’s spokeswoman, Tree Paine, stressed the risk of stalkers: “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.”
According to the Post’s report, many of Sweeney’s posts are derived from government data compiled by the Federal Aviation Administration. Though celebrities can request to hide their planes from those databases — and Swift appears to have done so — volunteer hobbyists can still track such aircraft via the signals they broadcast, and they often upload such info to independent public websites.
In the Post report, Sweeney said that he was merely posting public information that’s “already out there.” His attorney went further, calling the claims from Swift’s attorneys “hyperbolic and unfounded” and saying the posts posed “no threat” to the superstar.