Opinion — We deserve to know about Taylor Swift’s Jet

The singer has threatened to sue a student for sharing the take-off and landing details of her private jet. But the information is already publicly available, and so it should be.

Thred Media
4 min readFeb 21, 2024

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After student Jack Sweeney began sharing the whereabouts and routes of celebrity private jets online, he established a dedicated following. His audience were united by one thing; their hatred of unnecessarily short private flights, taken by the world’s ultra-rich at the expense of the environment.

Then, Taylor Swift threatened Sweeney with legal action. Given the information he’s sharing is already publicly available through the Federal Aviation Administration, it was inevitable his following — and the wider internet community — would fire at Swift with both barrels.

According to her attorneys, Sweeney’s actions were causing Swift anxiety and creating a ‘life-or-death’ situation for the singer. But while privacy is undoubtedly a human right — and one which shouldn’t be revoked once a person becomes famous — the environmental impact of grotesque wealth is, fundamentally, a ‘life-or-death’ situation for us all.

Crucially, Sweeney has been sharing the take-off and landing coordinates of Swift’s jet over 24-hours after the fact, making her lawyers’ safety argument relatively redundant. In an era of pervasive surveillance and heightened security measures, the notion that disclosing flight details poses an imminent threat to the singer’s well-being is dubious at best.

Arguably, increased scrutiny could, in fact, bolster security measures and foster a culture of accountability. But this isn’t the first time Jack Sweeney’s faced legal threats over privacy concerns.

In late 2022, Sweeney was banned from X by CEO Elon Musk, after the billionaire claimed he was sharing Musk’s ‘assassination coordinates’. Like Swift, Musk ostensibly saw Sweeney’s jet-tracking as a health and safety nightmare. But his attorney’s failed to bring any charges.

The online response to Swift’s legal confrontation with Sweeney has thrown her motives into question. On X, users have reshared some of the alleged routes taken by Swift’s jet, with some of the shortest lasting around fourteen minutes (equivalent to a thirty minute car journey).

While some have argued these journeys were taken after Swift sold one of her aircrafts, the posts have triggered a conversation around the largely unnecessary use of private jet’s by billionaires — and the astonishing amount of money and emissions involved.

As is to be expected, Swift’s fans have run to her defence. Some have pointed out that the singer doesn’t fall in the top ten highest emissions by private jet users, making the negative attention on her unfounded and unfairly biased.

But this argument somewhat misses the point; that the world’s richest should be held accountable for the environmental damage they’re causing, and have very little right to threaten those who point out this truth. It’s worth repeating the fact that Sweeney is only sharing publicly available information with the intention of raising awareness around the environmental repercussions of private aircrafts.

We may love Taylor Swift’s music, but the fact that one of her many jet journeys costs hundreds of dollars in fuel and creates sixteen times more emissions than a car journey from Paris to Rome, really puts our paper straw efforts into perspective.

In all honesty, it feels like a slap in the face. The world’s wealthiest people not only hoard the kind of wasteful luxury that is destroying our planet and causing further socio-economic damage to the world’s most vulnerable, but they also undermine our every effort to live more consciously.

Whichever way you choose to look at it — an unavoidable means of travel to ensure safety, an exorbitant display of wealth, or a preference for privacy — the decision to own or fly a private jet is ultimately an act of greed. Perhaps on its most blatant scale.

And sure, Taylor Swift certainly isn’t the only culprit we should be calling out (here’s looking at you Kim Kardashian, Drake, and even Adele). But her decision to sue a student for merely holding her accountable is in pretty bad taste.

It reeks of privilege; the notion that because you are wealthy you can sidestep any responsibility for the environmental damage you cause.

Swift may choose to fly private because she is, undeniably, astronomically famous. And the concern for safety in that regard is valid. But there’s no need to come down on a young person who deems it fair you throw your hands up and admit it’s killing the planet. Who knows, perhaps you could use your incomprehensible amount of wealth to do good in other areas?

The way Swift spends her fortune may seem like none of our business, but if you’re lucky enough to fall in the 1% of billionaires worldwide, your wealth is literally everyone’s business.

Swift has proven time and again she can impact politics, the economy, and even the Earth’s surface.

That’s because wealth on that scale brings incredible influence. Whether she likes it or not, Swift has, and will, impact the socio-political and economic order of society. And that means she does owe us something — not least the consequences her actions will have on our environment.

Perhaps the vitriol people have lurched at Swift since her decision to sue Sweeney comes down to her historical apolitical stance. In recent months, she’s faced backlash over her decision to stay quiet on the situation in Gaza. Given her capacity to drive substantial change, her silence feels loud.

And like her very public legal attack on Jack Sweeney, it’s worthy of our anger.

Whether Swift’s lawsuit succeeds in stifling public discourse on her private jet travel is up for debate. But one thing it confirms is our right to weaponise public information that threatens our own ways of life. And what’s more threatening than environmental destruction?

Originally written by Flo Bellinger for Thred.

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