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YouTube gets useful 'unlisted' video option

Site has a new video privacy level that keeps your clips from being seen by other users, or YouTube's search engine. Also makes it easier to share with non-members.

YouTube is now offering a third level of privacy for users to implement on their videos, one that makes it easier to share clips privately without actually having to set the video to private.

The new "unlisted" option lets anyone with a link to the video watch it, however it won't show up in YouTube's search results, channels pages, or on user profiles. And unlike YouTube's current private video option, the user who created unlisted video doesn't need to set up permissions for who can watch his or her video, just like the watcher does not need to be registered with YouTube to watch it. Instead, all the viewer needs is the URL.

The feature should grease the wheels on private sharing with members who are not signed up with YouTube. However, there's still plenty of value in YouTube's private setting, which lets you cut someone off from having access if they abuse it. With the new unlisted option there's no way to do that, as anyone who has the URL can watch it freely.

YouTube's new "unlisted" privacy option lets you upload videos to the site without anyone being able to see it--that is, unless they have the URL to it. YouTube / CNET

Update at 5:24 p.m. PDT: We asked YouTube spokesperson Chris Dale whether the new unlisted option changes how the company will be scanning uploaded videos for content that does not comply with YouTube's terms of service. He says:

"Unlisted videos are treated just like any other YouTube video on YouTube and are subject to the same Community Guidelines and DMCA complaint procedures. Users can flag videos that they believe violate our Community Guidelines. The YouTube team reviews flagged videos 24 hours a day 7 days a week and removes those videos which violate our Guidelines.  Users can also file DMCA complaints against unlisted videos that they believe violate their copyrights. We do not allow users with any Community Guidelines or copyright strikes against their accounts to upload unlisted videos."

So, there you go--the new privacy option has no real impact on what's going on behind the scenes of your uploads.