Hallmark Media is considering taking legal action against disgruntled fans who have managed to shut down several Instagram accounts dedicated to its popular series When Calls the Heart.
In a post shared on Brian Bird’s account, the show’s co-creator confirmed that accounts for the series have been suspended by Meta, the company that runs both Facebook and Instagram.
“The issue is complex, but we are aware that someone is targeting and reporting fan accounts for reasons we will not speculate on here,” read the message, which was signed “The Heartie Admin Team.”
Social media accounts
Though Hallmark won’t comment on who is attacking the accounts or why, fans are saying it is the work of Hearties still upset over the death of character Jack Thornton (played by Australian actor Daniel Lissing).
Thornton was killed at the end of Season 6, shortly after his wedding to Elizabeth (Erin Krakow).
The next two seasons saw controversy as Elizabeth, who gave birth to Jack’s son after his death, was pursued by two different men. When she chose businessman Lucas Bouchard (Chris McNally) over Mountie Nathan Grant (Kevin McGarry), some Hearties were upset, claiming she made the wrong decision.
Why Jack fans are attacking social media accounts now, instead of say, immediately after he left the show, is unclear. Some fans have speculated that it is because Elizabeth and Lucas are expected to marry in Season 10.
“It’s been years since Jack’s been gone,” wrote one fan in the comments section of Bird’s post. “The actor who played him wanted out, and I guess they could’ve replaced him with another, but it was the writers’ choice to go in another direction. It’s just a TV program, for crying out loud! And goodness gracious! I can’t believe of all the pages on social media, Hearties are the least controversial/offensive fan base I’ve ever seen.”
According to Instagram, accounts can be suspended for not meeting “community guidelines.” These include only posting photos appropriate for all age groups and not promoting hate, violence, or terrorism.
Anyone can lodge a complaint against an Instagram account. Meta administrators will sometimes suspend an account until they can investigate further. Though account holders can appeal the suspension, it can take time to get the issue resolved.
Some Hearties have speculated that the accounts were attacked so they would be offline in the lead-up to the premiere of Season 10, which is scheduled for July 30.
A post by Star Watch Byline urged fans not to give up.
“If you know of any specific account names or own an account that is either a general #WCTH fan site or a #WCTH cast member fan site that has been removed by Instagram, please send us the name of the site so we can send a list to Hallmark Media legal to see if they can help recover the sites,” read a post. “They have been notified of the issue but would need account names if you wish them to be recovered.”
Brian Bird’s message also urged fans to remember that the When Calls the Heart community is strong.
“Especially in tough times, Hope Valley values teach us to come together in support of one another and the greater good. We will come together with our collective goodwill and sustained belief and delight in this show.”