A Massachusetts man helped fuel one of the biggest digital dust-ups and social-media mysteries of recent years.
And after he did — Chad Jones then experienced the "terrifying" power of Big Tech titans to silence the voices of ordinary Americans.
He's now doubling down on his efforts to speak out against tyranny in the digital town square and beyond.
"I went MIA on social media for a while for sharing some pretty innocuous things," Jones, a venture investor working to bring alternative energy to impoverished nations around the world, told Fox News Digital in an interview.
"The idea that they’re stifling voices as part of the normal course of business is terrifying."
The social-media soap opera began in 2022 when Jones, originally from California, posted on his personal Facebook page a cryptic letter allegedly written in December 2021 by an 85-year-old retired California judge, Keith M. Alber.
The letter claimed that the current endangered state of American democracy was predicted with frightening accuracy in the 1950s.
The judge's shocking claim spawned a frenzied reaction on social media.
"My first year of college was 68 years ago," Alber wrote in a brief letter to The Epoch Times in December 2021.
"One class I took was political science. A half-page of my textbook essentially outlined a few steps to overturn democracy."
Alber’s letter enumerated those steps: "1) Divide the nation philosophically. 2) Foment racial strife. 3) Cause distrust of police authority. 4) Swarm the nation’s borders indiscriminately and unconstitutionally. 5) Engender the military strength to weaken it. 6) Overburden citizens with more unfair taxation. 7) Encourage civil rioting and discourage accountability for all crime. 8) Control all balloting. 9) Control all media."
The judge’s letter struck home with many readers, including Jones — who felt the textbook from decades ago predicted the crisis of democracy that the nation faces today.
It also spawned heated debate online — with members of each end of the American political spectrum claiming the other side was responsible for the fascist dystopia outlined by the judge.
Many people, however, doubted the authenticity of the letter, especially with the judge's failure to cite the name of the textbook.
Snopes.com weighed in, claiming last May that it talked to Alber and that the letter was authentic. Alber died later last year.
But, the outlet wrote, "One of the more popular postings of the article came from a Facebook account named Chad Jones. As of mid-May 2022, that post had been shared more than 11,000 times."
Jones was unaware that his post had gone viral until Fox News Digital contacted him last week.
Meta blocked him from his Facebook account soon after he posted the letter. He couldn’t get access to the post, even as it continued to ignite thousands of responses.
"When I looked at the letter, it really struck me as a variation of Saul Alinsky's ‘Rules for Radicals,’" said Jones when asked what prompted him to share the letter.
"The whole basis is to tear down our system and build something new and different, something not aligned with our traditional American concepts of individual freedom and personal liberty."
Thousands of people agreed with Jones; thousands more did not.
It appeared to be a vigorous public debate.
Yet Jones was silenced for sharing the letter that spawned the discourse and the entire post itself has disappeared since.
Jones reemerged on Facebook months later with an alternate account.
"It seems that silencing voices in the electronic town square falls right in line with what Alber wrote about," said Jones.
He said the experience has only stiffened his resolve to speak out on social media and other platforms.
He feels that "millions of Americans" learned the same lesson when they were silenced for daring to challenge Anthony Fauci, the federal government and media during the COVID-19 panic.
"The silent majority is no longer silent like they used to be," said Jones.
"They're no longer willing just to take their opinions silently to the voting booth. There are millions of us out there now fighting the effort to silence debate."
Jones uses Facebook only socially, he said. So he didn’t suffer any financial or business distress. But he lost plenty personally.
"The one thing I do miss are the pictures, the memories, the reunion photos. I can’t get back any of it. That kind of sucks," he said.
"It's all a little scary because I have kids. What kind of world will they be inheriting if we don't fight back?"