Exeter, Devon UK • Apr 18, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home LifestyleCulture The Spotlight Dilemma: Privacy Rights of the Rich and Famous

The Spotlight Dilemma: Privacy Rights of the Rich and Famous

Cora Jamieson sheds light on the ongoing debate surrounding celebrities' rights to privacy.
3 minutes read
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Image: By Clem Onojeghuo via Unsplash

The death of privacy, the face of the public eye, the end of anonymity, these are all phrases that regularly get tossed around the media cycle whenever a famous enough celebrity’s privacy is infringed upon by either a professional or social media. But how much do they actually stand up to scrutiny in the wake of increased calls for greater celebrity accountability and transparency?

A recent example of this is the massive social media frenzy around the Pop/Country artist Taylor Swift, in which an X account dedicated to tracking her private jet flight hours, CO2 emissions and journey distances. Swift’s lawyers quickly issued a cease-and-desist letter to the account threatening legal action if they didn’t shut down the account immediately. This letter came in the wake of a post on 31st January detailing how Swift took a 28 mile (13 minute flight) that got 54m views, causing mass criticism of Swift’s environmental practices and the ethics of celebrity private jets in the face of climate change and mass ecological harms. Swift has faced criticism for her private jet usage in the past as according to investigative journalist site weareyard, she is currently the celebrity with the highest CO2 emissions, racking up over 2,917.50 tonnes alone between January and August 2022. Her flight hours have increased drastically since she started seeing Travis Kelce, a Kansas City Chiefs player, with Swift reportedly regularly flying back to Kansas from South America in Autumn 2023, where she was at the time touring.

Despite the legal threats levied at the X user (swiftjetnextday), who has been identified as Jason Sweeney, a University of Florida student, the account has continued to operate. Sweeney has challenged the decision, arguing that all information published by the account is commercially available online as US airports have to publish their flight logs and that by posting the flight details the next day, the likelihood of harm caused by stalking or harassment is minimal due to the long-distance nature of air travel. The last post on the account is currently dated 12th February 2024, and the owner has announced his intentions to keep running the popular X account.

The social media circuit seem to delight whenever ordinary people get threatened by legal action such as Taylor Swift’s cease-and-desist letter, but themselves profit off the increased media attention and clicks from the gossip of someone else’s private life. Whilst celebrities have as much as a right to a private life as the rest of us, hiding behind accusations of ‘invading my privacy and rights’ as a way to shun legitimate critiques of their own actions is no longer acceptable. We should be wary of any and all attempts to cry invasion of privacy, especially when this protection is so rarely afforded to those who are not privileged enough to have a private legal team to fight for their right to privacy.

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