I only heard about this within the past 4 hours…
YouTube announced on June 23, 2021, that one month later, on July 23, 2021, all Unlisted videos uploaded before, and playlists created before, January 1, 2017, will automatically become Private, thus inaccessible to the general public (this includes comments). (Henceforth I'll be using "affected content" to refer to these videos and playlists.)
Channels have until July 23, 2021 (9 days from now) to manually opt-out of this upcoming change, which will keep all of their affected content left alone and still publicly accessible as it is now. After that time, channels will have to either make Public or re-upload (re-create in the case of playlists) any or all of their affected content; they will not be able to mark the original affected content Unlisted again.
As one can imagine, this will especially affect YouTube channels that have become derelict. Yet even for channels that are still active or maintained, keep in mind this change requires manual intervention to opt-out. Who knows if those channels will choose to opt-out, assuming they are aware of this change. I get the feeling this isn't widely known. For example, the official YouTube video on the matter has only about 49,000 views. Did any of you here on KYM know about this?
I can already think of videos I'm going to need to download using youtube-dl (which is where I first heard of it today). Some of them belong to active channels, but again, who knows if they are informed or not and what action they'll take.
Removing Video Responses, Annotations, and Community Captions over the years have been bad enough. But this time, they're making a change that for the first time actually impacts direct access to videos and playlists in one broad stroke. I'm disgusted. They say it's being done in the name of security… but in my eyes they have chosen to do this in a very poor manner. I'm disgusted.
The announcement on YouTube video linked below states: "These videos are not new and therefore receive less traffic, which we hope will minimize disruption." Well, it impacts me greatly, perhaps more than I realize. Some of my favorite YTPs and YTP sources are from 2009&ndash2011, they were Unlisted at upload or made Unlisted many years ago… in fact earlier this year I came across some YTPMV source I hadn't thought about for years, and I thankfully found it, Unlisted. The big kicker is, they were linked to in the description of another video… all of this on the same channel. Some of these Unlisted videos are meant to be seen, but kept Unlisted to keep their videos page from being cluttered.
And then there's the lack of visibility and notice YouTube has given this change. I'm on YouTube virtually every day. Granted, I'm no content creator there, I only visit as a guest. But why did I only hear about this today, 3 weeks after the announcement, with less than 2 weeks remaining until the change is made? Why does it seem a relative very few know about this? There is also little online press coverage: in a quick search, the only notable name I found to have covered it is The Verge. YouTube, if you're going to be this hush about such a drastic change, at least give users more time, damn it! Certainly more than a month!
YouTube does not appear to have disclosed what the security issue is in a public, conspicuous manner— which I find a bit appalling considering how negative and far-reaching the impacts of their solution are —but the most I've been able to find is in a comment on the official YouTube video of the announcement linked below. The comment, made by "Wissle", includes the following quote, without citing a source:
All unlisted videos from before 2017 have their URL ids generated from a single sequential key. So, if some ex-employee were to share that key it would be possible to generate a list of every single unlisted video. Robots could then scan all of those links and make information searchable which would effectively make every unlisted video not much different than a public video.
Of course the responsible and helpful thing to do would be to notify people of the situation and let us choose what to do with our own videos…but YouTube likes to do things the dumb way and effectively nuking millions of videos is easier than admitting to having a rather simple security flaw.
Overall, this is a low blow to all who enjoy the YouTube of yesteryear every once in a while. I hope this news spreads quickly, and reaches everyone who will want to archive their favorite Unlisted videos and playlists, especially ones that will effectively be lost to history on Friday, July 23, 2021.
(Sorry for the caps in the topic title, I couldn't write it concisely so I figure add some emphasis with the Shift key.)