Web Watchdogs Dig for Privacy Flaws, Bark Loud

As Web users entrust their life facts to Facebook Inc. and other websites, they are storing valuable personal information online where it could be exposed to marketers, fraudsters or simply people who aren’t the intended viewers.

That has spawned a subculture of self-appointed watchdogs who monitor Facebook and other sites for privacy and security lapses–most recently, an AT&T Inc. (T) website was breached to obtain the email addresses of some iPad users. The watchdogs tend to be professors, programmers and computer hobbyists who are looking to warn people before they become victims.

One night last month, Will Moffat, a Web programmer from San Francisco, stayed late at the office to familiarize himself with the tools Facebook makes available to developers.

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