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Some Canadian Media Outlets Say They Can Handle Facebook’s Newsfeed Changes

Lisa Yeung, HuffPost Canada's managing editor of lifestyle, works in the Toronto newsroom in March 2016.

Some members of Canada’s media industry say they expect to be able to weather the potential setback created by the latest change to Facebook’s content sharing priorities.

The social network recently announced that user feeds will now feature less news and other public content and more of the personal photos and status updates that first fuelled its popularity.

Facebook says it made the change in order to promote conversation and make time spent on the platform more meaningful.

As a result, Facebook says it expects pages that produce what it described as more passive content, including news and pre-edited videos, to receive fewer clicks.

News outlets have frequently used social media to drive traffic to their sites in recent years, but some Canadian organizations say Facebook is just one piece in an increasingly varied puzzle.

We have been adjusting our priorities and strategies long before today’s announcement.Andree Lau, HuffPost Canada

Andree Lau, editor-in-chief of HuffPost Canada, said the effect on the industry may be more muted now than if the change had come a few years earlier.

“Media outlets have already seen a big drop in Facebook results due to other algorithm tweaks, so this isn’t a big shock,” Lau said. “We have been adjusting our priorities and strategies long before today’s announcement.”

Facebook’s shift toward promoting conversation plays to the HuffPost’s existing focus, Lau said, adding that the media outlet has always tried to foster discussion among its readers.

Editor-in-chief Andree Lau speaks to editorial staff after the NDP leadership debate hosted by HuffPost Canada in Toronto on Sept. 27, 2017.

Conversation is at the centre of Facebook’s new approach, according to the organization’s explanation for the change.

Founder Mark Zuckerberg outlined the rationale in a Facebook post, saying content from “businesses, brands and media” had begun to crowd out the more personal moments which he said are at the core of the network.

Those personal updates will therefore become more prevalent in user newsfeeds, he said, adding that posts from other sources will still get promoted if they help encourage social interactions.

Those interactions, Zuckerberg said, can be good for a user’s well-being.

“We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health,” he wrote. “On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos — even if they’re entertaining or informative — may not be as good.”

Zuckerberg said he fully expected some “measures of engagement” to decline as a result of the changes.

Weathering the changes

The prospect didn’t appear to weigh too heavily on Global News, an early and frequent adopter of Facebook as a distribution channel.

“While we are a dominant news publisher on Facebook, we also employ strategies for diverse social media referral so as not to be dependent on any one source,” said Ron Waksman, vice president of digital and editorial standards and practices for Global News and Corus Radio.

“As a high quality journalistic source that users depend on, we are confident we can weather these changes while continuing to diversify our content streams with strong referrals from other social platforms.”

HuffPost Canada's Althia Raj, front left, records a "Follow-Up" podcast episode with (clockwise) Tory strategist Hamish Marshall, HuffPost politics editor Ryan Maloney, and Stephen Harper's former deputy chief of staff Jenni Byrne at the Conservative party leadership convention on May 27, 2017 in Toronto.

HuffPost, too, said other platforms are already filling any potential void left in the wake of Facebook’s changes, and said digital products like mobile apps can’t be ignored.

But Gavin Adamson, who teaches digital media courses at Ryerson University’s School of Journalism, said outlets will also have to rely on changes in reader behaviour if they hope to make up potential losses caused by Facebook’s new focus.

He said the impact could be “devastating” in certain cases, citing research suggesting some outlets get as much as half their traffic from Facebook.

Securing loyal readers

Organizations with an exclusively digital presence could be especially hard-hit, he added, saying it will be hard to train readers accustomed to using Facebook as an aggregator to make a point of visiting their favourite news sites directly.

“Maybe (news organizations) need to get more involved in community groups and posting news within those groups, or interacting more directly with interest groups within Facebook,” he said.

The outlets themselves, however, say the best way to secure loyal readers is to produce content that will keep them coming back for more.

“Quality journalism remains a key driver of audience, regardless of the distribution channel,” said Lau.

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$749,000 Toronto Real Estate Listing Looks Like It Came Out Of A Horror Movie

With how expensive housing in Toronto is, $750,000 for a house downtown doesn’t sound bad right?

Well, when they say something’s too good to be true, it probably is.

This 2-bedroom townhouse real estate listing might sound like a good deal based on location alone — it’s near Trinity Bellwoods Park, where houses on average go for more than $1,000,000 and has many amenities nearby — its pictures speak for themselves.

It doesn’t look bad on the outside, right? Nice and red.

The exterior of the house.

The inside tells a different story. It’s kind of… in need of a lot of love, to put it lightly.

The interior of the house is in need of a lot of love.

The house is over 100 years old.

The 2-storey house, which is more than 100 years old, started to gain attention on social media after journalist Lauren Pelley tweeted a link to the listing with the caption “Today in Toronto real estate.

“Just Needs Tlc, Renovations And Remodeling To Become Your Dream Home!” the listing reads rather optimistically.

HuffPost Canada has reached out to the listing agent to see if there’s been any interest in the house.

Definitely not creepy.

Real estate in Toronto has had a bit of a volatile year in 2017, with sales dropping more than 18 per cent from all all-time high the year prior. New mortgage rules are expected to slow the market down even more. Home prices in Ontario are expected to fall by another 2.2 per cent this year, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.

Still, if you’re interested in living in your own personal horror movie, or fancy a renovation challenge, 15 Rebecca St. may be worth checking out.

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