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Taylor Swift threatens legal action against Florida college student behind flight-tracking social media accounts

Attorneys for Taylor Swift have threatened legal action against a Florida college student who has been tracking the private jets of celebrities and other high-profile figures, including the likes of Tom Cruise, Elon Musk and Drake, as well as the 14-time Grammy winner.

Jack Sweeney, a junior at the University of Central Florida, confirmed to the Washington Post that he was contacted by Swift’s legal team over a series of social media accounts he uses to log the takeoffs and landings of the singer’s private planes. In a cease-and-desist letter sent in December, lawyer Katie Wright Morrone likened Sweeney’s online activities to “stalking and harassing behavior, including consistently publishing real-time and precise information about our client’s location and future whereabouts to the public on social media.”

Morrone noted that Swift and her family have experienced “direct and irreparable harm, as well as emotional and physical distress,” emphasizing that the “Delicate” songstress has also been left in a “constant state of fear for her personal safety” because of the air traffic accounts. The letter also accuses Sweeney of disregarding the safety of others “in exchange for public attention and/or requests for financial gain.”

“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. She added that there is “no legitimate interest in or public need for this information, other than to stalk, harass, and exert dominion and control.”

If Sweeney continues to post details regarding Swift’s air travel, “she will have no choice but to pursue any and all legal remedies available to her,” Morrone concluded.

Sweeney told CNN on Tuesday that he never intended any harm, adding that his posts about the pop superstar were not personal. He’s simply compiling “public information,” he said.

“I actually think Swift has some good songs,” Sweeney told the news station while emphasizing his belief “in transparency and public information.” He also pointed out Swift’s massive star power and the interest surrounding his accounts, concluding that she should have “a decent expectation” that her jet will be tracked “whether or not I do it.”

Sweeney for years has run accounts detailing the comings and going of planes and helicopters owned by politicians, public figures, and the super wealthy. The accounts rely on publicly available data from the Federal Aviation Administration and volunteer hobbyists who can track aircrafts via the signals they broadcast.

In 2022, Sweeney’s flight tracking sparked a public debate over freedom of speech, around the time his internet activity miffed Musk. The Tesla tycoon, who owns X, disbanded Sweeney’s account “@ElonJet” on the social media platform after Sweeney turned down a $5,000 offer to stop posting about his travel, instead asking for $50,000 to go toward his student loans, or purchasing a Tesla.

Musk declined, and Sweeney migrated to Threads and Facebook, though he was allowed to return to X in late 2022. His account still shares data on Musk’s private jet, but now it’s with a 24-hour delay.

Musk, a self-proclaimed free speech absolutist, said the details shared in Sweeney’s posts were essentially “assassination coordinates.”