Taylor Swift’s lawyers threaten legal action against flight-tracking student


BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – JANUARY 28: Travis Kelce #87 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates with Taylor Swift after a 17-10 victory against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game at M&T Bank Stadium on January 28, 2024 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Key Takeaways
  • The Washington Post first reported on the letters Tuesday and in an email to Forbes, Sweeney confirmed the Post’s reporting but declined to offer copies of the letters.
  • The Post, which did see the letters, reported that Katie Wright Morrone, an attorney at law firm Venable representing Swift, first sent a letter to Sweeney in December, equating his flight tracking with “stalking and harassing behaviour” and warning that the superstar would “have no choice but to pursue any and all legal remedies” if he did not stop—Forbes has contacted Morrone for comment.
  • Morrone reportedly wrote that Swift has faced issues involving stalkers and described the situation as “a life-or-death matter,” claiming there’s “no legitimate interest in or public need for this information, other than to stalk, harass, and exert dominion and control.”
  • Around the same time, Facebook and Instagram disabled Sweeney’s Swift-related accounts, he told the Post, and he received a second letter claiming “harassing conduct” after he began posting updates to Celeb Jets, a Facebook and Instagram account that he uses to track multiple celebrity-affiliated planes.
  • In emailed comments to Forbes, Sweeney said that “no where do I intend for harm,” but that he believes in “transparency and public information, apparently more so than Meta,” referencing the owner of Facebook.
Chief Critic

Tree Paine, Swift’s publicist, told the Post that she would not comment on “any ongoing police investigation” into whether alleged stalkers used Sweeney’s jet-tracking to find Swift, but she confirmed “the timing of stalkers suggests a connection,” adding: “His posts tell you exactly when and where she would be.”


Sweeney, who has reportedly reached out to digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation for help in responding to the legal claims, also noted that the letter came at a time when Swift’s use of private jets was under scrutiny for the environmental impact.

He told Forbes that he disagreed that there’s no public interest in Swift’s travel, citing the Japanese Embassy’s statement last week, weighing in on whether or not Swift would make it from her show in Tokyo to the Super Bowl in Las Vegas, where boyfriend Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs is set to play. He said that Swift should have a “decent expectation” that her flights will be tracked, “after all it is public information,” he told Forbes.

Key Background

Sweeney’s flight tracking made headlines in 2022, when Elon Musk, having recently taken over the social media platform then known as Twitter, suspended accounts that Sweeney used to track Musk’s flights.

Musk also threatened legal action at the time. Sweeney, a 21-year-old Florida college student, made Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list for his standoff against Musk and his flight tracking programs, which use public records to track private air travel and measure the environmental impact of private planes’ carbon emissions. Swift’s private air travel has been scrutinized before, given the high amount of carbon emissions associated with plane travel.

A 2022 analysis named Swift the top source of celebrity carbon emissions because of her frequent use of her private plane, but Swift’s team has rejected that portrayal, noting that the plane is regularly loaned to other individuals. A spokeswoman told the Post on Monday that Swift has purchased carbon credits to offset her travel ahead of her Eras tour.

What To Watch For

Sweeney’s Facebook account tracking Swift’s jet remains disabled, but he still maintains several other accounts across multiple social media platforms, including the Celeb Jets Facebook account.

This article was first published on forbes.com and all figures are in USD.

More from Forbes Australia