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By Madison Anidjar
Staff Writer 

A cease-and-desist notice issued in December 2023 demanded Ground Control creator Jack Sweeney to stop tracking Taylor Swift’s private jet, over the danger that it poses to the star’s safety and wellbeing. The letter has been in headlines since Feb. 6 when it was posted to the TaylorSwiftJets subreddit. 

Lawyers accused Sweeney of harassing Swift and enabling further endangerment and stalking by others. As the notice outlines, Swift has faced a unique threat from stalkers since she was a teen. In January, one man was arrested outside of her home three times in the same week. 

Since 2020, college student Sweeney has used ADS-B Exchange and other public data sources to track private jet flights by celebrities and tech moguls like Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Kylie Jenner. 

Sweeney’s inclusion of carbon emission data has drawn the focus of environmental advocates who criticize Swift and others over the large carbon footprint of frequent private jet flights. 

While data collected by Sweeney’s platform is often used to criticize celebrities’ overuse of private jets, Sweeney’s initial intention was not to vilify private jet owners. Sweeney actually began tracking Musk’s jets because he was a fan of the billionaire, according to Business Insider.

Following the cease-and-desist, accounts tracking Swift were banned from Instagram, Threads and Facebook. In response, Sweeney wrote a statement acquired by ClickOrlando

“Firstly I’d like to clarify that my intentions are not to cause harm. In fact, I actually like some of Swift’s songs. But I believe in the importance of transparency and public information, seemingly more so than Meta,” Sweeney wrote. 

Swift is not the first to threaten Sweeney with legal action, but this letter is the first time the public is aware of any real steps toward a lawsuit. 

In 2022, Musk took to X threatening legal action against Sweeney after a car carrying one of Musk’s children was pursued by a stalker. Musk never filed the threatened lawsuit, but his attempts to stop the infamous @Elonjet account did include pleas in Sweeney’s direct messages and even an offer of $5,000

Sweeney did not bite — instead, he countered, offering to stop tracking Musk in exchange for an internship or $50,000. Instead of responding, Musk permanently banned @Elonjet from X. 

Sweeney insists that his tracking bots are not meant to hurt Swift or others. He has taken prior steps to prevent fans from using his bots to stalk celebrities. After his row with Musk, Sweeney instituted a 24-hour delay before flight information is posted, and he soon resurfaced with a new account, @ElonJetNextDay.

Time will tell if Swift’s team goes through with a lawsuit against Sweeney, but it might be too late to take the more cordial approach. After all, Marc Cuban succeeded in stopping his own jet tracker account, @MCubansjets, by offering Sweeney friendship and business advice over a game of baseball. 

For now, though, Sweeney shows no signs of giving in to Swift’s demands, but his statement did offer her a bit of advice to avoid tracking. 

“Register your jet to a trust,” Sweeney said. “Don’t register the tail number as a resemblance to who you are.” 

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