The pop icon is trying to ban the social media accounts that track her private jet—exactly what Musk did when he acquired X in the fall of 2022.
Swift’s attorneys are trying to ban the same account that had previously tracked Musk’s jet, run by University of Central Florida student Jack Sweeney, who has made a cottage industry of tracking the landings and takeoffs private of celebrities and billionaires. Lawyers from the Washington D.C.-based law firm Venable, which represents Swift, sent Sweeney a cease-and-desist letter in December ordering him to stop tracking her jet. The Washington Post first reported the story.
“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,” Venable partner Katie Wright Morrone wrote in the letter, reviewed by Fortune.
Sweeney currently has accounts on Threads and Instagram that track Taylor Swift’s jet, as well as a subreddit that follows her private plane. Sweeney framed his efforts to track Swift’s jet on the grounds of his belief in “transparency and public information,” he told Fortune in an email. “Her fans are the ones who have grown the TaylorSwiftJets accounts and subreddit,” Sweeney said. “The tracking accounts routinely have more supporters and fans than otherwise.”
“It’s important to note that nowhere do I intend for harm,” Sweeney added.
Venable did not respond to a request for comment.
In December 2022, Musk took a similar approach when he banned Sweeney’s ElonJet account on what was then Twitter, now X. According to Musk, the crackdown was a result of a stalker’s attack on a vehicle carrying his 2-year old son. The attacker, he said, had learned of his alleged whereabouts from Sweeney’s social media accounts. A police investigation into the incident found no links between the attack and Sweeney’s jet-tracking accounts, according to the Washington Post.
Venable’s letter on behalf of Swift made a similar accusation against Sweeney. “You are notorious for disregarding the personal safety of others in exchange for public attention and/or requests for financial gain” Morrone’s letter reads.
The episode led to a rewriting of X’s terms of service, which now does not allow sharing “live location information.” Sweeney later reopened his Musk jet-tracking account on Threads.
Swift has also been the victim of several stalking incidents, as her law firm’s letter mentioned, saying she has “dealt with stalkers and other individuals who wish her harm since she was a teenager.” Most recently, a stalker was arrested three times in the span of several days outside her home in Manhattan.
“To be clear there is no justification for you to publicly identify our client’s location,” Venable’s letter states. “Indeed there is no legitimate interest in or public need for this information, other than to stalk, harass, and exert dominion and control.”
Sweeney disputed those statements to Fortune, calling them “inherently wrong.”
As one of the most famous people alive, Swift’s movements have long been widely tracked, even more so over the last year when she embarked on the historic Eras Tour in the U.S. and South America that had 24 stops—now moving to Asia. The obsession with her whereabouts reached a fever pitch this winter when she began dating two-time Super Bowl champion Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs, who duly made another Super Bowl. Swift’s attendance at Kelce’s games became a media sensation, uniting the country’s most popular singer with its most popular sport.
With the Asian leg of Swift’s tour kicking off, there was concern she might not be able to return from Tokyo, where she is performing, in time for Kelce’s appearance in the Super Bowl on Sunday. The speculation was so rampant that the Japanese Embassy weighed in on the matter, issuing a statement saying “if she departs Tokyo in the evening after her concert, she should comfortably arrive in Las Vegas before the Super Bowl begins.”
For Sweeney, that remains grounds to track Swift’s jet. “People are interested and you should have a decent expectation your jet will be tracked whether or not I do it as after all it is public information.”