Sebastian Stan, the actor who portrays Bucky Barnes (a.k.a. the Winter Soldier) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has recently appeared on BBC Radio 1 and stated that fans have attempted to activate the Winter Soldier in public. Stan spoke about the matter saying that "it happens a lot," and that "it's an honourable thing" despite the very concept being fictional.
"It happens at coffee shops. It happens a lot," said Stan. "And it's always very funny. It's an honourable thing I guess. You're very taken with it all the time. You do have to sometimes look at people in the face and say, 'No, I will not become the Winter Soldier when you say that. You can keep saying it, and maybe you should say it, maybe that's a moment we both need to have together, now, here. But nothing crazy will happen.'"
Aside from Stan being an actor and the Winter Soldier being fictional, the activation protocol only works when the words, "longing, rusted, seventeen, daybreak, furnace, nine, benign, homecoming, one, freight car" are spoken in Russian, meaning anyone who has approached Stan speaking the words would see no success anyway.
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