facebook, social networks, social mediaWith Facebook’s launch earlier today of a social search feature, the company indicated that it increasingly sees Google as a competitor and won’t sit idly by while Google pushes into social networking.

As Google continues to leverage — now antitrust worry-free — its dominance in search and other Web utilities to force users to sign up for its social network Google+, Facebook is now using its dominance in social networking to siphon off some of Google’s search traffic with the Graph Search announced this morning (and reported on sister blog Inside Facebook — which does not pose a security risk, scout’s honor).

With substantially beefed up search capacity, Facebook reduces the temptation for its users to venture beyond its walled garden when looking for restaurants, travel ideas or even news.

What’s more, when Facebook can’t provide useful results in its Graph Search, it will send users to Bing, with which it has a partnership.

“As part of this product, our two engineering teams worked together to advance a unified search experience. That means that when people want to search beyond Facebook, they see web search results from Bing with social context and additional information such as Facebook pages,” Microsoft crowed on its blog before the Facebook press event had even concluded.

It will be very interesting to watch comScore’s search engine rankings over the coming months to see if Facebook runoff boosts Bing’s market share.

“I would love to work with Google,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in response to a question. But the company, unlike Microsoft, wasn’t able to guarantee that content users shared and then subsequently hid behind stricter privacy settings would disappear in search results, Zuckerberg explained.

To add insult to injury, Facebook’s search was built by former Google staffers. Lars Rasmussen, who joined Facebook from Google in 2010, and Tom Stocky, an ex-Googler who is now Facebook’s head of product, joined Zuckerberg in making the announcement.