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Unlisted Links Aren’t Quite as Private as YouTube Promised

Youtube guarantees that unlisted content won’t come up in search results and won’t appear on your channel — here’s how to get around that.

Youtube offers three different privacy settings for users uploading a video to the platform: public, private, and unlisted. According to the video site, videos uploaded as unlisted won’t come up in search results and also won’t appear on users’ channel lists. According to YouTube, the only way for individuals to access unlisted videos is if the owner has shared the link with them.

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However, thanks to a few Internet masterminds, there are a select number of proven techniques for accessing unlisted content. While there’s no exact way to locate specific unlisted videos, searchers with a little extra time will likely be able to find the video they’re looking for. With these techniques in mind, YouTube users should be aware of the content they’re posting, even if it’s unlisted; nothing is private online and everything lasts forever.

Google Search

Though YouTube claims that unlisted content can’t be accessed through an Internet search, this isn’t quite true. Most unlisted videos contain the disclaimer “This video is unlisted. Only those with the link can see it.” By running the google query “ ‘This video is unlisted. Only those with the link can see it’ -inurl:all_comments,” users will be able to view a limited number of unlisted videos. This technique uncovers about 70 different unlisted video results. While this approach is imperfect, it demonstrates the imprecise security of unlisted YouTube links.

Unlisted Videos

A New Zealand website by the name of Unlisted Videos contains links to — you guessed it — unlisted videos. The site offers nearly 65,000 videos which Internet users can filter through according to all videos, random videos, and playlists. Users can also submit their own unlisted YouTube video URLs and search the website by specific channel names and keyword tags. The site follows guidelines intended to prevent privacy breaches. Under these rules, it displays unlisted videos owned by celebrities, businesses, and musicians, but not those of the average individual.

Playlist View

Thanks to one YouTube flaw, unlisted videos become visible when placed in a playlist. Videos located in the playlist will be visible to users via both the API as well as the YouTube website itself regardless of whether they have the unlisted link, but only via the playlist view. The unlisted content will still not be accessible through a search and will still not be visible on the owner’s channel or uploads playlist.