CIA analyst Bob Baer claimed that "Putin is going to be all over Twitter" thanks to billionaire owner Elon Musk’s policies for running the company.
He also stated that the "voice of the people" Musk claimed wants free speech is "Russian intelligence" looking to undermine American support for Ukraine.
During a recent segment on CNN, the analyst argued that Musk’s pro-free speech attitude towards operating the company, particularly in the way he has decided to reinstate banned accounts and not suspend users for any speech, means Russian hackers will benefit.
After a Twitter poll he created earlier this week revealed that a majority of voters want previously banned accounts to be granted "amnesty," Musk declared he would oblige that request. Along with his decision, he stated, "Vox populi, Vox Dei" – "The voice of the people is the voice of God."
Baer also claimed that Musk’s justification of this move – calling it about free speech – is "just nonsense" that will benefit the Russians and other peddlers of disinformation.
Speaking to CNN anchor Boris Sanchez, who began the discussion by mentioning Musk’s decision to reinstate banned Twitter accounts earlier this week, Baer declared, "Well Boris, I can tell you one thing, Putin is going to be all over Twitter."
He added, "If there’s no regulations on this, fake accounts, spoofed accounts, the rest of it – this is a great opportunity for him. And so when he’s talking about the popular voice, Musk he’s really talking about Russian intelligence."
Since Musk’s announcement, several media outlets have reported on complaints that Musk’s reinstatement of previously banned accounts would make the platform a more dangerous place. An Axios piece from Thursday reported that "activists" are worried that the Tesla CEO’s will put "lives at risk."
Baer continued, stating, "The Russians are waiting for something like this. They need a propaganda campaign against the United States and against our support for Ukraine, and they’re gonna be all over Twitter – I guarantee this – supporting the far right, plans, demands to stop arming Ukraine. You just wait."
Elsewhere in the interview, the anchor asked Baer how Twitter can counter ever more sophisticated means of spreading disinformation, to which the guest replied that the pre-Musk version of Twitter was able to handle the job.
He said, "Well that’s why the pre-Musk Twitter had 7000 people going through these accounts. You can pick ‘em out with algorithms, you can pick ‘em out by looking at ‘em. You can check IPs and the rest of it, and you simply block ‘em."
Baer then slammed Musk’s appeal to free speech, saying, "And it’s not right. And you know, this freedom of speech is just nonsense, 'cause you can’t go into a movie theater and yell, ‘Fire!’ It’s against the law."
He then outlined Putin’s alleged strategy for the platform: "What Putin’s gonna do, and the Russians, is they’re gonna use this as a vehicle to save himself in Ukraine. And you know, whether it’s gonna work or not, I don’t know. But we’re gonna see, as soon as these restrictions come off, we’re gonna see the Russians all over it."