Most efforts to inform voters about who's paying for political campaigns have focused on old problems. In California, election officials are doing better at making campaign finance data available to the public, and the Legislature is working on bills to require nonprofit organizations to reveal the sources of money they spend on politics, and force the top three funders of political ads to be boldly identified in the ads themselves.

These are good ideas for shining lights on the big money that too often dominates elections by buying up time for slick TV commercials. But what about those newer features of election politics, the smaller and more casual campaign messages that appear online in blogs, videos and social media? How do voters know if the people posting these pitches for candidates and ballot initiatives are fellow concerned citizens or paid propagandists?

A regulation to tackle that modern problem is under consideration by the state Fair Political Practices Commission and deserves public support.

Regulation 18421.5 would require campaign committees to reveal when they pay someone to create digital content -- for, say, a blog or a Twitter account -- unless that information is provided in the content itself.

If someone who is making a persuasive argument for this Assembly candidate or that "no" position on a proposition is just an interested member of the community without a connection to a campaign, great -- they don't have to be identified. But if they're really paid fronts for a campaign, or being put up to it by a deep-pocketed special interest with a stake in the election outcome, they're completely within their rights -- but voters would be told.

In the old days, you'd have heard those arguments in a bar or diner or on the front porch from a campaign worker, and you could look the person in the eye and judge their sincerity.

Now it's harder to know people's motivations without requiring transparency.

This isn't about restricting free speech. It's part of the effort to prevent anonymous donations and activity from subverting voters' ability to make informed decisions.

Last year's scandal of a shadowy group ostensibly from Arizona donating $11 million to California initiative campaigns lit a fire under reformers. SB3, by state Sens. Ted Lieu of Torrance and Leland Yee of San Francisco, and SB52 attack campaign-finance issues in other laudable ways.

The FPPC plan plays an important part. The best argument we've seen against it is that it would "out" whoever is behind @SutterBrown, the Twitter account of Gov. Jerry Brown's dog; that's a chance we are willing to take.