Unlisted YouTube videos and Security for July 2021 Update

Due to security vulnerabilities identified by YouTube and Google changes are coming to your ‘unlisted’ YouTube videos.  Effective July 23 2021, YouTube will be altering all of these videos, and making them private.

What is an unlisted video?

Occasionally – you’ll upload a video to YouTube, but before making it public, you may want to share the link with a third party for review or approval.  Sometimes – you want to include a video on a page of your website, or a social channel – but don’t want that video to appear on your YouTube channel.  Perhaps you want to share it via email to a small audience, or run Google pre-roll ads using them.

These ‘unlisted’ videos are still ‘used’, but are not publicly viewable – and that is the trouble looming.

Changes to your unlisted videos

On July 23rd, Google and YouTube will be implementing a security update on their system.  This relates specifically to these ‘Unlisted’ videos, and at that time, all ‘Unlisted’ videos on user channels will be flipped to ‘Private’.  

When this occurs, linked or embedded unlisted videos will no longer be visible to anyone but the logged in YouTube user.  They will fail with a”This video is private” error, and this  includes links you’ve shared on social media, posted on blogs, or embedded on websites.

Identifying these unlisted videos can be done through your Creator Studio when logged into YouTube.  Alternately – you can wait until the 23rd, and any broken linked videos will be apparent on your website.   These videos can then either be made Public or replaced with a new Unlisted Upload.

Your Options

In order to ensure the video remains available, but not public – one of two things need to occur.

1.  The video must be switched to private, and a replacement uploaded (with a new url, requiring all existing posts, shares, and website embedding) after the switchover on the 23rd.

2.  You can request that your videos not be switched over, however, the security vulnerability in question will remain on those videos. Until they have been manually reverted to private and new videos uploaded after the transition.

If you choose to opt-out of the automatic ‘make private’ process – you can request it ahead of time using a support form at google. (Below)

A form is available at  https://support.google.com/youtube/contact/older_unlisted_update where the channel owner (your YouTube account login) can provide the ‘channel id’ for your YouTube channel.

As always – when uploading content, or using multiple services to host content, you’ll have to remain aware of changes like this one.  Hopefully – this will reach you with enough time to make the decision that is right for you, and your website!