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Politics

Facebook had a privacy summit while Zuckerberg was away

While CEO Mark Zuckerberg was in Washington defending Facebook's privacy practices, back in California his staff was learning about privacy challenges, the company says.

Facebook hosted a privacy summit while Mark Zuckerberg was in Washington.

James Martin/CNET

As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was in Washington fielding questions on how the world's largest social network protects user privacy, the company was hosting a privacy summit.

Zuckerberg took nearly 10 hours of questions from US senators and congressional representatives on Tuesday and Wednesday, after facing political pressure to testify about the social network's Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Multiple questions revolved around what Facebook is doing to protect user data and privacy. Lawmakers' concerns were triggered by news that data on 87 million Facebook users had been sold without their permission.

In response to many questions, Zuckerberg deferred answers to his team back at Facebook. While he was on Capitol Hill, the Facebook team was hosting a privacy summit, according to a blog post from the company.

The summit started with a keynote talk from Facebook's chief security officer, Alex Stamos, who discussed the "natural tensions of privacy versus preventing abuse," the post says. The sessions also featured presentations from Facebook's researchers on privacy challenges, as well as ways the company might protect user data.

The discussions included topics such as encrypted messaging, privacy usability in growing markets, and how Facebook uses data during disaster responses. Researchers also talked about how users perceive privacy, and the social network's usability.

"It was instructive learning more about the challenges that Facebook is facing in the areas of privacy and security," Dan Boneh, a professor of Computer Science at the Applied Cryptography group at Stanford University, said in a statement.