YouTube is switching older Unlisted videos to private, while it's also adding testing a new process to better highlight policy violations to users within their video clips.
First off, on Unlisted video uploads - back in 2017, YouTube updated its process around Unlisted videos to make them harder for people to discover, if they didn't have a direct link.
Unlisted videos on YouTube can be viewed and shared by anyone with the link to that particular clip, but they don't show up in search results or other tabs. The 2017 update sought to clarify a loophole in YouTube's system which had seen some unlisted content appearing in search, in order to ensure they remained privately shareable, as intended by the setting.
In order to fully close any gaps here, YouTube has now announced that any Unlisted videos uploaded before 2017 will be made Private, starting on July 23, 2021.
As per YouTube:
"We are also giving creators the option to opt out of this security update and keep their videos in their current state if they prefer. If you have a video that is impacted by this change, we’ll notify you directly."
So, if you have an Unlisted video on YouTube, you'll soon have to either op-out of this change, make your Unlisted video public, or re-upload your Unlisted video under the new process.
Or you could do nothing:
"We’ll set any Unlisted videos uploaded before 2017 to “Private” starting July 23. As a reminder, Private videos can only be seen by you and the people you choose. Once these videos are made Private starting July 23, any link previously used to embed or share them as Unlisted will no longer work."
So, really, this likely primarily relates to videos that have been uploaded with the intent to have them embedded on certain sites, without making them widely available, as such. The full impact of the change is not clear, but if you do have any Unlisted videos, you'll need to take action to address the change.
In addition to this, YouTube has also announced a new test designed to improve the process of addressing policy violations in video clips.
"We want to make it easier for Creators to understand policy decisions, know when to appeal, and avoid similar violations in the future – that’s why we’re testing out improved policy emails that provide an example of a timestamp showing where we believe the policy violation exists in the video."
The new process will provide a direct, time-stamped linked to the section of your video which YouTube's system has identified as potentially breaching its rules, while the alerts will also include specific details about the relevant Community Guideline and links to related help resources.
"To start, we’re testing this with a subset of YouTube policies (so you may not see it yet) and have plans to expand to more policies in the future pending feedback and results. Many of you have specifically asked for timestamps from our Support teams, so we’re looking forward to your thoughts."
That could save a lot of time, and creator angst, in trying to understand what they've done wrong in their clips, with direct reference points to help them address any potential errors - or at the least, provide a clearer understanding of what's gone wrong.
That could be a big help, with YouTube's automatically detected violations often causing major headaches for YouTubers in trying to post their clips.
The new process is being tested now, with a small subset of YouTube users.