Moral Compass

Funder: ESRC, EPSRC, AHRC and Dstl – as part of the CuRAtOR project.


Team: Tom Feltwell, Gavin Wood, Kiel Long, Shaun Lawson, John Vines (Northumbria University); Tom Schofield (Newcastle University); Julie Barnett, Phil Brooker (University of Bath).




Timeframe: 2016-2017

The Moral Compass was created to engage viewers of socio-political television programming in more critical and reflective engagement around programme content. The design of Moral Compass was motivated by work we had conducted as part of the CuRAtOR project, where we had seen how the proliferation of a reality TV genre that focussed on welfare recipients had led to concerns that prime-time media experiences are exacerbating misconceptions, and stifling critical debate, around major societal issues such as welfare reform and poverty. We noted that discussion around such programming on social media was especially problematic – where viewers engaged in kneejerk reactions to what was shown on television, often reinforcing and echoing the negative portrayals on screen.

The Moral Compass comprised of two parts. The first was a “tagging” system, that allowed social media users to browse Twitter streams associated with the hashtags of specific shows and add tags and codes to individual tweets. The system guided users to tag tweets with their perceived “morality”. The second part was a mobile-based application that visualised the resultant morally-tagged Twitter stream as points on a compass, which a user is able to rotate to see the different “moralities”. The intention of these two parts of the system was to engage users in active interpretation of online talk related to broadcast media, and to provide new ways of navigating and organising social media content that contrasted with the dominant media platforms.

------- CoCreate members working on this project:

------- Publications related to this project:

Feltwell, T., Wood, G., Long, K., Brooker, P., Schofield, T., Petridis, I., Barnett, J., Vines, J., and Lawson, S. 2017. “I’ve been manipulated!”: Designing Second Screen Experiences for Critical Viewing of Reality TV. In: Proceedings of ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’17), pp. 2252-2263.


Brooker, P., Vines, J., Sutton, S., Barnett, J., Feltwell, T., and Lawson, S. 2015. Debating Poverty Porn on Twitter: Social Media as a Place for Everyday Socio-Political Talk. In: Proceedings of ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’15), pp. 3177-3186.