Let’s call time on ‘social experiments’ which exploit the public

Nobody finds bomb scares and Tube harassment funny

Social experiments used to be intelligent: they exposed human nature and how we react in different situations and environments.

The official definition reads: “A social experiment is a research project conducted with human subjects in the real world that typically involves randomly assigning individuals, families, businesses, classrooms, or other units to different treatments or to a control condition that represents the status quo.”

Now, they are seemingly an excuse to touch women, and frighten people on the street or on the tube. The new these Primark-level athropologists aren’t conducting any kind of valid research: they are using people for easy views and Youtube money. It is not a research project but an exercise in terror and humiliation.

Now, however, the curtain is falling on this weird chapter of YouTubers and Viners who harass people on the street for the sake of their videos.

This week a guy called Julius Dein decided he would pretend to rob another passenger – who is actually his mate – on the Tube. The camera started rolling and he was spotted, called out for being a “train thief”. One militant girl gave him a slap. It’s citizen justice, though it could have gone far worse. You can watch his video here.

Also recently in London, Trollstation put a ticking clock inside a suitcase and passed it off as a bomb. The head of the Met warned them that they could be shot by armed officers for pretending to be terrorists. The video in question has been removed from YouTube, but it’s not their only bomb related video. The team has also pretended to have the Zika virus on the London Underground and made a video showing us “how to scare a plumber”.

Then there’s the curious case of Jack Jones, the “internet prankster”, who steals people’s hats.The joke rebounded earlier this month when another YouTuber called Disco Boy, real name Lee Marshall, slapped him with a pizza and caught it on camera. Jack promptly phones the police. He showed he can’t handle being on the receiving end of a joke, and perhaps – crucially – that internet pranking beef has gone too far.

A pizza slap is hardly Biggie vs Tupac, but involving the police shows it’s got out of hand.

Some of you might remember Sam Pepper from Big Brother 11 (the one with the fringe). Last year, he put out a video showing a mock shooting and acted in a series of “ass grab” pranks, where he uses a fake arm and touches a woman who are unaware. He said it highlighted the sexual abuse of men, and was not for his own pleasure. A petition to get him banned from YouTube got over 200,000 signatures. He’s still working on prank videos.

When you’re pretending to kidnap someone, murder their best friend right in front of them or creating a bomb hoax, you’re putting people through some very real trauma. This goes beyond the boundaries of what makes it a harmless prank or comedy in the loosest sense. It’s bordering on sadistic. These internet pranksters hiding behind their “social experiment” motifs aren’t doing anything groundbreaking, and they certainly wouldn’t make it through any kind of peer review.

Leave the real experiments to the experts.