The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is expanding its antitrust probe of Google to include the inspection of social network service Google+, according to Bloomberg.

The publication sourced two people “familiar with the situation,” and cited “competition issues raised by Google+” as the primary aspect of the FTC’s investigation into whether the globally popular search engine gives preference to its own services. The FTC is also inquiring whether such practices violate antitrust laws, according to Bloomberg, who could not identify its sources due to the investigation’s nonpublic status.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company rolled out “Search, Plus Your World” to its search engine Jan. 10 and dubbed the revision a “personal results” feature that displays Google+ photographs, news and comments when user’s conduct Web searches. The Electronic Privacy Information Center promptly called upon the FTC on Jan. 12 to investigate the recent search changes in a letter posted on its website…

“Google’s business practices raise concerns related to both competition and the implementation of the Commission’s consent order,” said EPIC, regarding a settlement between the FTC and Google that established new privacy safeguards to protect Google product and service users. The settlement also subjects the company to regular privacy audits.

Google’s recent foray into social networking and integrated search results is an attempt to ward off competition from Microsoft’s search engine Bing and the social network Facebook. ComScore reported this week that Bing scraped ahead of Yahoo with 15.1 percent of the market share. Meanwhile, Facebook has more than 800 million members, compared to Google’s 40 million Google+ users in October 2011.

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