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Your Facebook homepage is about to get major surgery, with a shift in focus to real-time updates from your friends -- a la Twitter -- along with a bunch of cosmetic upgrades.

The first major change is the reintroduction of a left-hand navigation column. This list of filters will let you narrow down what updates from your social network are shown to you, such as updates just from your family members, just your friends or a combination of a bunch of friends. You can also mute 'friends' you don't care about. That's a killer app, right there.

Your news feed will now update in real time, as has been an option for some time. And instead of application managers and 'Invite your friends' boxes being stuck down the right-hand side, you'll see what are called 'Highlights' -- stories, events and photos selected for you by the Facebook system, based on what your friends are also showing an interest in.

A revamped publisher -- the 'What are you doing right now?' box -- will in addition to letting you post text updates, let you post photos, Web links and videos, so there's no need to upload to an album to share a quick picture. Think Twitter and TwitPic, only on Facebook, since Twitter didn't want Facebook's piffling $500m of stock.

What it means

It's Facebook's next evolutionary phase; a shift to focus on the objects themselves that flow between you and your friends, rather than simply being the river they flow across -- 'John Boring is now friends with Alice McDull-Hobbies' updates are swept to the side in favour of updates about what John just sat on, or who Alice just videoed herself punching square in the neck.

The new homepage is set to go live on 11 March, but we've got some early screenshots to check out in the gallery above.

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Yes, Facebook actually the uses the phrase 'friends you care about'. As opposed to..?
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